Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow
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EARLIER this year, Scots alt-rockers Frightened Rabbit bagged their first Top 10 album and sold out two nights at Glasgow's 02 Academy.
The band have the melodies, anthems and riffage to pull off such large scale rock shows with aplomb, but the songs, and charms, of frontman Scott Hutchison are equally suited to pared-back renditions in low key locales, as evinced at this intimate outing from his solo guise, Owl John.
Hutchison's Owl John alter-ego has made sporadic under-radar appearances over the past few years, but is now set to take centre stage, with a same named album being released via Atlantic Records (also home to Frightened Rabbit) next month.
On record, Owl John offers a darker, swaggering dirge lues counterpart to Frightened Rabbit's melodic rock, but they share a biblical, earthly idiom and, of course, Hutchison's bruised voice is at the heart of it all.
Live, Hutchison struck a terrific balance between debuting Owl John material - the wolfish urban chorale of Los Angeles Be Kind, the driving, fried Americana of Red Hand - and performing solo versions of Frightened Rabbit favourites, most of which were hollered verbatim by the audience, including Backwards Walk, Keep Yourself Warm and Holy (the latter from this year's Top 10 LP, Pedestrian Verse).
The cosy church hall also allowed for warm and comical interaction between Hutchison and the crowd, not least when he really apologised for "victimising" Frightened Rabbit fans with "all of those depressing songs".
By way of apology, he serenaded us with an uplifting aria from his forthcoming album, Good Reason To Grow Old. "Rapture and love brought me dancing," he sang, and suggested bright things are in line for Owl John.