REVIEW: The Fratellis, O2 Academy, Newcastle

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.
The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Fratellis put on an entertaining but unsociable show as they just about proved worth the wait at this rescheduled Newcastle date.

It was an evening short on theatrics and limited on crowd engagement as the band stuck to the business of working through a packed setlist of old favourites and new material from their latest album.

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Frontman and guitarist Jon Fratelli performed passionately but was otherwise muted, only addressing the audience twice, and the crowd themselves were more restrained than might usually be expected at a rock show.

But there was glimpses of the usual fiery riot, including a brief attempt at a circle pit, and the music itself proved gutsy and a worthwhile listen throughout.

The Fratellis not only penned one of the defining songs of the naughties generation in Chelsea Dagger - performed here to predictably rapturous response - but also arguably one of its finest albums in Costello Music.

The 2006 release spawned celebrated singles such as Whistle For The Choir and Baby Fratelli, and it was these that inspired the audience into brief frenzies, as many of the recent numbers elicited a relatively subdued reaction.

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

This was unfair particularly on their fourth album, titled Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied, as it received positive reviews earlier this year and features some genuinely impressive rock 'n' roll from a band who've moved away from early pop sound, without losing their knack for an accessible hook.

The set was bookended by two tracks from the album - Baby Don't You Lie to Me and Too Much Wine - and they were the best-received of the new material.

The sheer depth of their repertoire was such that the band rattled through 18 songs before the encore, which itself was weightier than most, with four more tunes.

Chelsea Dagger was the penultimate of these, received as joyously as anyone would expect. It remains their signature tune, heard at football grounds and other sporting events across the country every weekend.

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

They closed with a cover of the 1961 Dion classic Runaround Sue, to a noticeable exodus of front-row fans who had heard the songs they had bought a ticket to see played.

Sheffield band The Crookes opened, performing a rock set pleasing to older fans of The Fratellis' recent work but lukewarmly received by the younger contingent in the audience.

That was, at least, until a cover of All I Want For Christmas Is You - which almost rivalled Chelsea Dagger for adolescent popularity on the night and proved an impressive rock reworking of the seasonal classic.

They're set to play Newcastle's Think Tank? next year as headliners, a compatible venue for their sound, while The Fratellis also promised to return to the region soon.

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Fratellis performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.