This time last year I had never even so much as heard of the Frames, but, armed with a copy of their latest album, ‘The Cost’, I am ridiculously excited about seeing them tonight.

I don’t think I was the only one. Huge in Ireland, I am told. But here in mainland Britain, they are one of those strange bands that may have only a small fanbase, but are treated like heroes by those who have joined the privileged. So, whilst the Scala may only hold a few hundred people, there was the prickle of anticipation I think of more as being part of a stadium show.

First, there was a good set from Four Day Hombre. I enjoyed it, but have to confess that I really couldn't have cared less who was supporting. Having said that, I would willingly go and see this band again on their own terms.

I wrote in my review of the Frames’ new album that the star of the show is singer and songwriter, Glen Hansard. That is true even more on stage. I compared him to Bono, which in terms of his huge, emotional vocals is fair enough. But in person this short, witty roguish scruff has a very different kind of charm. His ever present smile suggests that he loves his life, and that is always a winning feature.

Sometimes the way the band veer from very loud to very quiet could be a little simplistic. But when you are wrapped in the moment, and the moment contains incredibly passionate songs, played precisely but not preciously, you don’t mind that this isn’t a cold, arty rock band, but a big, bold spectacle. The songs from ‘The Cost’ were all magnificent, and, despite the album only having been formally available in the UK for a few weeks, all enjoyed rapturous singalongs.

The high quality of the new songs made this a better set, but some of the older songs kept them in good company. Some were scratchy indie songs on record, but live were anthems. None better than ‘Star Star’, which bathed in the glow of a glitter ball, was sweet, sentimental, silly but thoroughly lovely. Who can deny a band that breaks into a few lines from 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory mid-song?

Other highlights included the angry anthem ‘Fake’, the gorgeous solo rendition of ‘Leave’, the grungy 90s throwback ‘God Bless Mum’, and the stadium rock that wasn’t quite, but made you feel like you were breaking-in the new Wembley, ‘Finally’.

Its hard to say how good this show was. If you don’t know the Frames, you don’t know what you are missing. But let me tell you, you were missing something special. If you get the chance to see the Frames any time soon, take it.

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Commenting On: Scala, London, 20/2/2007 - Frames

ie London, England

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