Review of Jon Fratelli and Iain McLaughlin and the Outsiders (support) at the Ironworks, Inverness on the 18th of September 2011.
Following a slot at Loopallu, Jon Fratelli made his long awaited return to the Ironworks following his cancelled gig in April. The numbers may have been a little on the low side for a high calibre act, just over a 100, but this may have been in art due to those travelling to Loopallu having seen their man there. There audience did boast one or two refugees from the festival, who had shipped up still with the festival spirit burning in their bellies.
The night kicked off with local act, fresh from a gig at The Cavern in Liverpool, Iain McLaughlin and the Outsiders taking to the stage. The last time I caught a glimpse, and it was just that, of Iain McLaughlin was in Mad Hatters where he was on the bill for a Pretty Green promo night. I’d popped in for a few minutes following Karima Francis’s gig at the Ironworks. That night, the little that I admittedly heard, sounded a bit muddied on the vocal and not as impressive as previous gigs. Tonight we needn’t have worried as normal service had resumed. The Outsiders got the crowd on board as the numbers crept up in anticipation of John Fratelli.
The connection grew and so did the crowd’s feedback for what, I suspect for many was their first exposure to Iain and co. A strong stage presence and pumped up confidence formed where Iain and bass player, Dave Ramsay, fought for dominance and the limelight, showing the game had stepped up a notch or two. A more reticent Paul Elliot sidestepped the macho bravado and let his guitar do his talking for him.
Not to be outdone by Jon Fratelli, Iain gave a drum a fair pounding, and drummer, Russell Montgomery, a run for his money at the intro of Someone for Everyone. With anthems such as this, and The Remedy, becoming classics in the local scene, a national stage beckons on a more regular basis. The band held their own on the bigger stage where their appealing brand of rock shakes up the crowd. Not a bad night’s work for the boys even if walking off stage leaving a trail of feedback in their wake is a little old hat. Go on, next time milk the applause because it’s there in buckets.
When Jon Fratelli entered the fray he appeared somewhat perplexed by the crowd reaction, but thankfully slipped into top gear rattling out Rhythm Doesn’t Make You followed quick fire with Daddy Won’t Pay Your Bill. This set the scene for the night. Tracks from the Fratellis’ albums with a fair good smattering from his new solo album, Psycho Jukebox. The two drummers at the back relived the appearance of Adam Ant earlier this year, but there was subtlety in this performance with Gordon McRory (Mince) taking time out to provide an additional guitar, to alleviate the driving drums for short periods.
Those that remembered Jon’s visit under the Codeine Velvet Club banner were not disappointed, even in the absence of Lou Hickey, with renditions of Little Sister and I Would Send You Roses. This completed the three stages of Jon’s career so far. The pace was frantic throughout with very little let up, other than a slightly surreal tale from Loopallu retold, with some well meaning interruption from the earlier mentioned returnees from Ullapool. That aside it was full throttle pure adrenalin, pure rock ‘n’ roll.
The mood and the set itself was encapsulated in his three song encore. First up was a cover of Dion’s Runaround Sue, if that’s not rock and roll, tell me what is. Played with verve and giving the clearest indication of the band’s tightness. Not unexpectedly, and it would have been a disappointment if they omitted it, second from last was Chelsea Dagger. Full of freshness and vitality, the crowd played their part with their terracing chants and the drummers synchronised drumsticks just added to the fun of this cheeky number. And so a heady night ended with A Heady Tale. A real fans’ favourite, and a fitting end to a wonderful night.
If a gig were measured in perspiration, the amount sweated by Jon and his assemblage would have topped the scale. I wouldn’t like to have been the guy having to mop it up afterwards.
Next time Jon Fratelli is in town, take a friend, or your partner, or just a random passer by. In fact take your extended family, as he is worth more than the hundred plus that made the effort tonight.
By Frank Finlayson
Many thanks to McIntosh Photography, Beyond, Ironworks and Jon Frattelli.