Review by Kim Porcelli for Hot Press
Preaching to the choir is for the godless. The Frames, possessors of possibly the largest ‘choir’ in Ireland in the form of a fanbase more devout than most religions, have nevertheless always seemed to prefer to shun the easy option: both the self-absorbed preciousness of the Serious Alternative Artist on the one side, and the Aslan-patented pandering to local überdevotees on the other.
Instead, they inhabit that shady, undefined area in between, gently pulling taut that thread between artist and audience, constantly shifting and readjusting, balancing halfway between the trust-and-attention-requiring foray into the unknown, and the familiar, beloved visceral thrill. You know. The place where magic happens.
This ain’t easy. Especially tonight, in this draughty, characterless hall, more suited to youth-club socials than to complex, bruised, proud, visceral folk-pop; dodgy leads and a small, odd crowd further conspiring to muddy their smouldering, subtle din – and onstage, shoulders are worriedly hunched for the first four songs or so. But, where most bands would have turned sullen or desperate, they opt for openhearted bravery – in particular, the intimacies of ‘What Happens’ and ‘You’re My Family’ are as shamelessly open and heady as roses – and the crowd are, by night’s end, pulled loudly, irresistibly forward (shouting, clambering onto chairs, gleeful captives) like iron filings to a magnet.
For the birds. And on the side of the angels.