It is apparent after seeing this show that The Fratellis are more than just "that iPod commercial band." For their NYC debut, the Mercury Lounge was jammed with bouncing fans who knew the words to nearly every song, and "Flathead" was not anywhere near the most popular.
Sure, a lot of them were British, and they were all quite probably drunk as the 8pm set time allowed for Work, Happy Hour, Show. But the enthusiasm for this Scottish trio was real. And why not? This is immediate stuff, with catchy riffs and memorable choruses, sounding like an amalgam of the Small Faces, T-Rex, the Clash and Supergrass, though the shadow of Oasis is probably cast over all of that. It’s a whole album of singles and potential singles, from "Flathead" to "Henrietta" "Whistle for the Choir" and "Chelsea Dagger."
In addition to knowing their way around a hook (even if we’ve heard that hood before), the band are tight and far more skilled than you might think. Shambolic is not a descriptor here. Bushy-haired frontman John Lawler , looking somewhere between Jim Reid and Mick Hucknall, can really play guitar, and delved into Robby Kreiger territory at one point.
But they aren’t the most engaging live band. Lawler and bassist Barry Wallace mostly just stood and played, leaving most of the theatrics to drummer Gordon McRory who seemed to me the heart of the band. I have become increasingly fascinated by drummers and he was endlessly watchable, and on a couple songs it sounded like he could have been playing for Adam and the Ants. (Burundi Beat is due for a comeback.)
Most of the crowd didn’t share my view, though, as I said, they were were super psyched for the show and enjoyed every damn minute of it. There was even a pit for a couple songs. Maybe it’s just their music isn’t quite my cup of tea. "Chelsea Dagger" is undoubtedly ace, and I did love their show-closing cover of Goldfrapp’s "Ooh La La," which tore up the joint. Her original is almost "La Grange" anyway, and the Fratellis just took it fully over into ZZ Top country.
Pictures swiped from Sandwich!’s Flickr photostream, and he smartly focused most of the shots where the real action was — the crowd. Lots of cameras all around, as you might expect, and at least a few bloggers: I spied Brooklyn Vegan, Chris of Music Snobbery, Heather Ugly Floral Blouse, and perhaps there were more. Some of us stuck around for the Young Knives (awesome) and Unisex Salon (umm…). More to come.