fatcd83_cover_hi-resThe opening question to ask when presented with any live album, and especially a live album that replicates track for track an already existing album (The Midnight Organ Fight [TLOBF review]) is a big WHY? The natural thing to do would be to try to take the record as it is, as something new, and to ignore the studio recordings. Quietly Now, which features mostly acoustic versions of the Midnight... tracks, in the same running order, makes this impossible - you have to look backwards to the studio album and make comparisons, it's inevitable, and it might be painful. I don't mind admitting that there's a lot at stake here for me, I'm uncommonly fond of The Midnight Organ Fight. What to do if this detracts from the genius of that record? What to do?To give the facts first: Frightened Rabbit are a clattering folk band from Selkirk in Scotland; they make guitar based music, but with it's chest ripped open. This is their third 'album'. This was recorded at The Captain's Rest in Glasgow in July 2008. The Captains Rest is by all accounts an intimate venue, and this was something of a summing up of where the band had got to so far, and a present to those who had followed the band from the beginning. Which tells you pretty much all you need to know, really - it accounts for the triumphant feel of the recording, the buzz between the band and the audience and also the buzz of the strings, the reverberations off the four walls. To all intents and purposes, this is a gesture of a band that has outgrown itself, a CDR tossed away at the end of a gig. It's testament to the band's integrity and power, and to the indestructibility of these raw, potent songs that they've to all intents and purposes, managed to get away with it.So, having lived with this since it was first given a US release some time late last year, and to get it over with - no, I don't think these versions do match up to those on The Midnight Organ Fight. But given the time period, and given the band I a) don't care and b) am glad they exist. These are the skeletal brothers of those songs, but animated, throbbing with all that dumb love that Scott Hutchinson seems to bring to whatever he touches; and what's more, in this setting, you're ever more drawn to the quiet magic of Hutchinson's lyrics, his phrasings.Unsurprsingly it's the versions of the more acoustic based tracks that work best in this context. 'Good Arms Vs Bad Arms' is sublime, with the richness and thickness of the chord pattern driving everything forward. The song's coda, with Hutchinson going after his ex missus' new fella, is dazzling: 'just roll over boy, don't make me do this... I am armed to the teeth and I'm heavy set'. 'Backwards Walk' is equally affecting. You have to wonder just deeply the breakup that birthed The Midnight Organ Fight bit into Hutchinson for these songs to still sound so full and alive, when he sings 'i'm working on erasing you, I just don't have the proper tools, I get hammered, forget that you exist' the pain sounds fresh. The same applies to 'Poke' (the one version here that outstrips the studio counterpart) which has some of his best lines, not least: 'I should look through some old photos I adored you in every one of those/ If someone took a picture of us now they'd need to be told that we had ever clung on tight'.Then again, 'Keep Yourself Warm' (sung by James from The Twilight Sad) and 'Floating In The Forth' are both immense. The nakedness of both tracks comes across doubly so in this environment. The latter, the end of a long journey, despite it's subject matter is just the most stirring and uplifting song I can imagine. It burns with intensity. And that sums up this band, and Hutchinson. And in reality, this is his record. He's on record as saying he doesn't really care for touring all that much and you sense this is probably a perfect halfway house. This feels like the end of a chapter. And I for one can't wait to see what comes next.84%Frightened Rabbit on MySpace