Queuing up in the freezing cold outside the Barrowland Ballroom, the excitement in the air is palpable. Glasgow natives The Fratellis are finishing up their UK tour in support of their new album In Your Own Sweet Time with a sold-out show here tonight, and as every Glaswegian knows, a Glasgow band playing the Barras is a special event.
The night starts with a high-energy set from Canadian rock duo Black Pistol Fire. They look a slightly mismatched pair at first glance – drummer Eric Owen is a shirtless mop of hair, whereas vocalist and guitarist Kevin McKeown is wearing a cardigan and possibly the skinniest pair of jeans I’ve ever seen. However, despite their disparate appearances they are completely in sync throughout the performance, and their music is surprisingly powerful considering there are only two bodies onstage. They’re evidently more about the music than they are about the lyrics – McKeown gifts us with several blistering guitar solos – but their set is peppered with just enough catchy choruses to keep the crowd’s attention. The set ends with McKeown entering the crowd amidst cheers, and it is clear that Black Pistol Fire have won over the Barras.
It’s then time for The Fratellis to take the stage. The lights go off, the crowd screams, and Offenbach’s can-can music starts playing (I never thought I’d witness a room full of drunken Glaswegians dance and sing along to the can-can, but it was delightful nonetheless). The band open with fan favourite ‘Henrietta’, but it quickly becomes apparent that vocalist Jon Fratelli is struggling to keep up with the song. He later explains that he’s lost his voice and asks the crowd to help him out by singing along as loudly as possible. Nae bother. Songs from the new album get a good reception – particularly ‘Star Crossed Losers’ and ‘Stand up Tragedy’ – but, predictably, it’s the songs from 2006 album Costello Music that are met with the warmest response, and they make up the bulk of the setlist. ‘Whistle for the Choir’ is a highlight; the crowd are so loud during the emotional singalong that Jon barely needs to participate. They end the set with biggest hit ‘Chelsea Dagger’ and their customary frenetic cover of Dion’s ‘Runaround Sue’.
In the end, it doesn’t matter that Jon’s vocals aren’t at their best – the enthusiasm of the crowd more than makes up for it. The whole night feels like a party; a party celebrating one of Glasgow’s finest bands in its most famous venue.