IN A move akin to one of those vintage crime capers, Jon Fratelli has got the trusty old gang back together.
RATING: * * * *
Following a band hiatus of a few years, bassist Barry Fratelli has been recalled from service with laddy Brum outfit The Twang, and drummer Mince Fratelli rescued from the dark art of heavy metal to hide in plain sight in his singer’s backing band. Jon Fratelli himself is battle-hardened after forming, then splitting, another group, Codeine Velvet Club, releasing an unsuccessful solo album, then recording and not releasing a follow-up.
But will The Fratellis’ recently minted third album, We Need Medicine, constitute one last job? Not if one were to go by the rawness of intent in the delivery of set-opening new song Seven Nights Seven Days with its playful/telling declaration that “I’ll be the comeback kid on his way home from hell”.
Yet their frontman is no mug, and quickly struck a “bogof” bargain with the crowd. One new track showcased for every old favourite. Songs from second album Here We Stand were almost entirely airbrushed out of the set, making this a straight comparison between the hugely popular tunes from their big-hitting debut and a batch of new material which sounded every bit as catchy and ballsy, just disadvantaged by lack of familiarity.
If there was any contrast to be made, it was that the latest additions to their set, such as Stonesy strut Shotgun Shoes, exuberant country rocker We Need Medicine, the glammy romance of Rock’n’Roll Will Break Your Heart and brawny beast This Is Not The End Of The World, owe more to classic rock conservatism than the default bouncy indie rock stylings of Baby Fratelli, Flathead and Chelsea Dagger, which sent the crowd into a partying frenzy.