“YOU’RE either the luckiest crowd in the world, or the unluckiest crowd in the world,” joked The Fratellis’ Panama-hat sporting frontman Jon Lawler as he strapped on his guitar. He referenced the large quantity of brand new material the Glaswegian indie-rock trio had in store at an intimate hometown show previewing their new album Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied.
It was ultimately the band’s luck that was to prove patchy when the fire alarm went off about half-way through their set, necessitating a full evacuation of the building and fire engines blocking Bath Street. Such mishaps will occur when you cram a group more accustomed to headlining much larger venues into such a small club. A very Glaswegian spirit of humour reigned throughout the commotion, and everyone was back inside soon enough, but there’s little doubt that Lawler and his bandmates bassist Barry Wallace and drummer Gordon “Mince” McRory would much rather have been proudly unveiling more new material than posing for selfies with fans outside the fire escape.
After that there was time enough for just a handful more songs, the last of them inevitably being Chelsea Dagger, the terrace-anthem style chant-along which – since becoming a staple of sports stadia around the world – has grown to eclipse even its authors in stature. While The Fratellis have never penned anything nearly as commercially successful since, the general consistency of their songwriting across now four albums – meat and two veg simple but always bristling with hooks – makes you realise that the success of a certain song is sometimes as much about nurture as it is nature.
Set opener Baby Don’t You Lie To Me! was a high-tempo retro rock’n’roller with the kind of chorus that doesn’t leave you in a hurry. The Springsteen-esque Imposters (Little By Little) mixed some warm country-rock flourish into their formula, while Dogtown added gritty clavichord-funk for a convincing Stevie Wonder tribute. Elsewhere in the pre-fire-alarm part of the show, the modestly anthemic Whistle For The Choir and Flathead were a reminder that there was more to The Fratellis mid-2000s breakthrough than just Chelsea Dagger.
Before that song rowdily closed to much bouncing, Lawler gave thanks to the crowd with self-deprecation as much as pride. “You guys have let us be rock stars for 10 years,” he said, after recalling chatting with a selfie-hunting 19-year-old girl outside who said she was nine when she first discovered The Fratellis. “Sorry let me rephrase that – you guys have let us pretend to be rock stars for 10 years.”