ARTIST The Frames
VENUE The Ulster Hall, Belfast
DATE 20 December 2005
Play it again Glen
Something happens to a band as it increases in stature. The more gigs they play the bigger their appeal, the larger the venue and the wider the audience. Whereas at the start, dedicated fans pack out tiny venues, by the time they reach the Ulster Hall there are plenty of hangers on. This was the problem tonight. It seemed that the majority of people had heard about the Frames in passing and thought it would be a night out for a few drinks with some music in the background. The audience were very noisy.
The sound wasn't great either; the vocal mix was too low and when Glen went to play his acoustic it sounded so shrill and top end like TV static. But neither the sound nor the audience was the real problem. The Frames have been playing this set for years now. It’s the same jokes, the same covers and almost the same audience banter.
If this was your first Frames show it would still have been impressive. But if, like me, you've seen them a few times before, it was uninspiring. Don't get me wrong, I love the Frames, but I felt like I had heard it all before. They played fewer songs from Burn the Maps than this time last year. At the end of a long tour, they are well oiled, but almost routine. There were highlights; the second half of the concert was much better, Your Face made a welcome appearance, as did the wonderful Fitzcarraldo in the final encore. Star Star was the sing along it always is but the band lacked the originality that made them one of the best live acts in the world. I hope it's a blip. I hope the Frames re-invent their show, so it's not like turning up and listening to Set List again.