Art students gone wild is how I would best describe Fever the Ghost, who kindly entertained the dark den of Venue this past Wednesday. As far as opening acts run, these boyos certainly had some head-nodding tracks. Their psychedelic genre-mashing made for some mad sounds that got everyone juiced and ready to go.
As they disbanded, in came stagehands to prepare for the main course. Simultaneous was the shifting crowd moving forward to claim their turf. My close proximity to ripped t-shirts and vintage army boots enabled me to catch the usual banter of band gossip. Those I had then met up with spoke of there having been mixed reviews surrounding the Fratellis’ third album, We Need Medicine. Raised shoulders proclaimed that they might have lost their initial flare. The question soon stood: Would these three Scottish strangers with the same last name be worth the price of admission?
I can say for certain there are less desirable ways to spend a Wednesday night.
The trio took to the stage calm and collected, making no attempts to dally with a hello. Walking straight into their first set, they banged out in uproarious fashion ‘This Old Ghost Town’, ‘Flathead’, and ‘Whiskey Saga’. By the fourth track, these gents had found their speed, looking mighty relaxed, as did the audience. Soon enough, lights flooded the stage upon which Jon Fratelli rocked back and forth with a fire engine red Telecaster, as Mince Fratelli kept the pace over an array of drums, along with the great Barry Fratellis manning his bass, juxtaposed with their name behind them. The reactions were seismic in comparison to what had started the band off.
I have to thank Venue for supplying some topnotch equipment for the event. Props to the lighting guys. Everything worked out. Well.. except for the ability to hear the singer (hard enough for some when he actually speaks). At one point, Jon became fed up entirely with what had been placed in front of him, jokingly jeering: “I thought this was a professional outfit?” This was met with yells of approval from the rafters down.
That aside, the guys did play well around the malfunction, balancing their best known ringers with their latest batch: ‘Chelsea Dagger’, ‘Creepin’ up the Backstairs’, ‘Baby Fratelli’; mixed with ‘The Halloween Blues’, ‘Seven Nights Seven Days’; with everything in between. Vancouver was privileged to hear two new untitled tracks (or titled – again, the microphone dropped the ball). The tunes were a sonic blend of ‘Flathead’ and ‘Ghost Town’, and I can only write that I hope to hear those ones again soon.
In terms of a band you would want to see live, these guys are it. Say what you will about their studio recordings, these fellas know how to pander to the small venues. They keep a consistent energy and can adjust their levels knowing exactly when to step back and strum some slow ones. I left the floor deaf with my shoes sticking as I walked to grab my coat, but the trade-off was worth what I saw.