The Fratellis Bring Brooklyn Steel to Its Knees at Knockout Concert
By Lauren Johnson
On Wednesday, May 16, Scottish indie rock band The Fratellis played an epic, high-energy concert in front of an electrified crowd at jam-packed Brooklyn Steel. On the tail end of their North American tour after the March release of their newest record, In Your Own Sweet Time, The Fratellis came out hard to open up the show with fan favorite “Henrietta” – the first song off of Costello Music, released in 2006.
Based on an earlier Hedonist/Shedonist interview with Jon Fratelli, as well as their nonstop momentum-fueled set, it’s clear that when The Fratellis play, it’s all about the music. No speeches, no long talks to the audience – I’m not even sure they really spoke to the crowd other than to shyly say “thank you” after each song’s thunderous applause. And that’s not an insult – music is their passion, and the music alone was the focus from start to finish as the Fratellis powered through hit after hit, much to the crowd’s delight.
With soft-spoken Jon on lead vocals and guitar, Barry on bass, and Mince on drums, The Fratellis played almost every song from their beloved first album – including “Creepin’ Up the Backstairs,” “Doginabag,” “Baby Fratelli,” and “Flathead” (their famous single featured on an iPod shuffle commercial) They also made sure to play some of the popular singles from their newest album, including “Stand Up Tragedy,” Starcrossed Lovers,” and “Sugartown.” It was great to see fans singing along to their latest hits in addition to staples from their classic oeuvre.
While The Fratellis were not ones to waste time on words, in a particularly touching moment Jon Fratelli acknowledged Mince’s birthday that day by bringing out a cake with lit candles, and asking the keyboardist to start a tune so he and the audience could sing Happy Birthday. “Wait, that’s too high!” – Jon told the keyboardist, who lowered the song an octave while the crowd boisterously sang along. “I have a feeling you guys were much more in tune than if we had done this in Glasgow!” Jon laughed after Mince blew out the candles.
After nearly running through their roster of songs – the band must have played close to 25 or 30 different hits in the span of two hours – they exited the stage. The crowd wasn’t fooled, of course – especially because they had yet to play perhaps their most popular song to date, “Chelsea Dagger,” a deliciously-catchy anthem with a stuck-in-your-head-all-day quality that even led it to be adopted by the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2010 as their goal song. After their faux-finale, The Fratellis returned to the stage to finally play the song that the crowd had been anticipating all night. The feeling of the room when everyone heard “Chelsea Dagger” was electric – the atmosphere was already a party, but fans went absolutely nuts.
Of course it wouldn’t be right to discuss the night without mentioning The Fratellis’ fantastic openers, Blood Red Shoes, another alternative rock band from the UK. The incredibly talented duo from Brighton were reason enough to come out to Brooklyn Steel – their powerhouse hits created such a strong vibration, energy, and momentum that filled the entire warehouse. The sounds got inside your soul. It was mesmerizing to watch and listen to Steven Ansell rhythmically pound on the drums while still maintaining a perfect singing voice (a seemingly impossible task) and listen to low-key Laura-Mary Carter rock the electric guitar while belting out her killer vocals. I was sad to see their set end and will definitely be on the lookout for future shows in NYC.
After The Fratellis wrapped up the night with a fun cover of Dion’s “Runaround Sue,” the packed warehouse slowly made their exodus out into the drizzly streets of East Williamsburg, calling cars, hailing taxis, or trudging through the rain to catch the late-night L train. Not, however, before belting out the word’s to Brooklyn Steel’s closing-time soundtrack, “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. It was the perfect finale to a communal experience that brought all kinds of people from different walks of life together to celebrate the joy of music and a kickass rock concert.