Owl John


Believe it or not, tonight is my first time watching a gig at Soup Kitchen. Almost deceived by the two separate entrances, I manage to make it downstairs in time to grab a beer before the live music begins. First to the stage are James Graham and Andy MacFarlane, two fifths of the usual Twilight Sad live lineup. Graham starts by announcing that they’re usually loud, but tonight they’ll be doing their “Simon and Garfunkel thing”.

They open with ‘Alphabet’, the first track from the band’s third and most recent album No One Can Ever Know. With the sound stripped back to just the vocal and a guitar, the song feels more intimate than on the recorded version. A trend that continues throughout the set.

The pair close with ‘Cold Days from the Birdhouse’, taken from Twilight Sad’s 2007 debut album Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters. Graham seems to lose himself completely in the music, furiously shaking his head from side to side during the instrumental break.

I’ve never seen a Twilight Sad full band show, but the seven tracks Graham and MacFarlane played this evening kept me entertained. I may take some convincing that adding more noise will improve them.

Owl John, also known as Frightened Rabbit vocalist and guitarist Scott Hutchison, makes his way to the stage next. Alone on the stage he ploughs straight into opening song ‘Hate Music’. The song is taken from the self-titled album released earlier this week, the first under the Owl John moniker. The dirty strumming guitar sounds great behind Hutchison’s gritty vocal and the lead riff really drives the song forward; an excellent way to begin.

The second song of the set, ‘The Modern Leper’ sees the first delve into the extensive Frightened Rabbit back catalogue. Following the song Hutchison informs us he “has an hour and forty-five to kill, so we’re going to be having a lot of Frightened Rabbit songs”. The next song is another from his Owl John album ‘Los Angeles Be Kind’, but he then encourages us to select songs for him to play. “I’ve no set list” he says, “so I’ll pick one, then you pick one”.

After challenging the crowd to get him drunk we get the first of the songs chosen by the audience, Frightened Rabbit song ‘Be Less Rude’. A few more songs in, the third drink bought by a punter is already going down well and amid the calls for many different songs Hutchison reveals his tactic, “I just wait until I hear the song I was going to play anyway, it’s a fallacy”.

Later in the night, throughout the second half of ‘The Loneliness And The Scream’, the crowd completely drown out the sound from the stage by singing the “whoa-oa” bits. Hutchison now leaves the stage and the “whoa-oa” is reprised as we wait for an encore. The first song of the encore ‘Behave’ had been requested earlier in the night. Hutchison muses that he “probably hasn’t played that since the first time we played in Manchester”. The night is then closed with ‘Head Rolls Off’ and ‘Poke’.

We had a total of 21 songs during this headline performance, 16 of them versions of Frightened Rabbit tracks. That doesn’t even include the impromptu happy birthday sung to an audience member. It all adds up to a very enjoyable evening. Listening to an experienced and talented entertainer who appears to be having a good time himself is a great way to spend a couple of hours. All the songs played, both old and new, were more than worthy of my attendance.

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Adam Smith

Silent Radio Editor-in-chief. Watching excellently crafted live music is one of the great pleasures I get to enjoy. Having too often seen excellent bands fail to garner the attention I believe they deserve, I'm here to spread the good word of the under-appreciated musical performer. I encourage everyone who is reading this to do the same. Get in touch if you'd like to do that here.