The Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s collaboration with a Scottish pop act has become a highlight of The Spree, Paisley’s annual multi-arts festival. Even in this year’s enhanced line-up as part of the bid to become UK City of Culture in 2021, it was hard to contemplate a more stunning festival sound than the opening swell of the RSNO in Paisley Abbey.
Frightened Rabbit and the RSNO ****
As this year’s guests Frightened Rabbit struck up, the orchestra switched pace to a blithe canter, with choppy violins and woodwind snaking round Death Dream. In a confessional mood, frontman Scott Hutchison admitted he was terrified about performing with an orchestra but tickled to be turning the ecclesiastical air blue with his more profane lyrics.
A mini-set without orchestra was enlivened by the pacey strum of Old Old Fashioned, cheery, throwaway, but preferable to their angstier numbers, and the lift from the orchestra was considerable on a twinkling Woke Up Hurting. Elsewhere, mournful strings captured a mood which is often Frightened Rabbit’s indulgent default setting but was greatly enhanced by conductor John Logan’s beautiful arrangements.