Frightened Rabbit's Guide To Their Favourite Small Scottish Venues

'Cos it's not just about Barrowlands...
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'Cos it's not just about Barrowlands...

We’ve traversed this great country many times, and there aren't any venues left untouched by Frightened Rabbit. From the Megabus tours via my Mum’s Mini right up to our current (thankfully bigger) tour bus, we’ve paid our dues and we keep coming back.

There are some obvious choices to go for when talking about our favourite venues in our home country. The Barrowlands, King Tuts and the sadly deceased Picture House Edinburgh come to mind, but I’d rather flag up the lesser known halls that have bequeathed us some of our most memorable nights.

-Words by Grant Hutchinson

1. Market Bar, Inverness

On walking up the narrow stairs - probably carrying a really heavy bass cab - to the Market Bar it’s instantly clear this place is special. The walls are plastered with news cuttings and photographs of past guests The Proclaimers, The Proclaimers and The Proclaimers and there’s an atmosphere that can only be created by years of gigs and bodies.

It’s small. Really fucking small. We didn’t even fit in there as a three piece but we made it work somehow. My outstanding memory of the show was witnessing Billy walk through the crowd with his accordion to serenade the nearly deaf crowd during ‘Yawns’, and being fondly stroked and groped with beer soaked hands. Major plus point of being in a band, that.

2 Strathpeffer Pavillion, Strathpeffer

We played here before the release of Pedestrian Verse as part of a Highlands and Islands tour. It was one of our most memorable tours and this show was up there as one of the best.

The pavilion itself is a beautiful room that has been updated, but been allowed to keep its Victorian seaside character . It’s a lovely wee town too: it was one of the bigger venues on that tour so we played a full band, full electric set and the crowd were incredible!

3. The Victoria Hall, Selkirk

Selkirk is where Scott, Billy and I grew up so playing here was a really special occasion for us. The last time I’d been there I was playing in Return To The Forbidden Planet for our high school musical production! (My resume also includes Joseph, Grease, Les Mis and many more: it was a big thing in my youth).

There was a great mix of local folk and people who travelled a wee bit to see us in our hometown. That was so special. My Dad brought us pink buns and bannock and you’ll never guess what was being stored in our dressing room…the chair from Picking Night (if you don’t know what this is: go look it up). Hopefully we’ll be back again soon.

4. Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore

This was on the same tour as Starthpeffer but this show was a totally different beast. There’s no actual stage here so we were set up on the floor, which makes such a difference to the intimacy of a show like this. There was no barrier, physical or otherwise, between us and the crowd. I have never heard such a loud bunch of people singing every single word to every single song as they did that night. It was actually kind of terrifying! Scott’s unplugged rendition of ‘Poke’ is one of the best I’ve ever seen and I will never forget this place. I think we signed a guitar here that may or may not still be on the wall. Hard Rock Café has nothing on this place!

5 Queens Hall, Edinburgh

This is obviously a fairly well known venue in Scotland but you don’t get that many bands there and I simply can’t leave it off this list after the show we played there in 2009. It was definitely a moment where I thought “We’re actually fucking doing this. I’m in a band and people like it.”

Any venue is only as good as the people who fill it and that night those people absolutely changed my life and how far I felt the band could really go. There was a huge sense of everyone in there being in it together and that we’d all invested a lot of time and love in to this thing and this was the payoff. A really special night that you could try and try to recreate forever but it’s unlikely you’ll succeed because the only reason it happened was because nobody involved really knew that it could.

Picture by Dan Massie

Frightened Rabbit's new album Painting Of A Panic Attack is out now on Atlantic Records, and they're going out on tour.  Get all the tunes/details here.