If I said The Fratellis were a Big Three for the new millennium, would that be too obscure a reference? How, then, about a Gerry & the Pacemakers for the new millennium? The point is that the Scottish trio, which played The Pabst Theater Monday night, has catchy tunes and distinct Merseybeat influence, but with a modern edge. You could say an early Beatles on speed, too.
With the simple backdrop of a huge letter F and the form of a leggy pinup projected onto the stage, the Glaswegian band mixed jagged guitars with Lennon-esque vocals on good time tunes frontloaded with catchy melodies, keeping the interest of the crowd – which filled the main floor of The Pabst – during its 45-minute set and three-song encore.
Opening with “Baby Fratelli,” the group performed most of its debut disc, “Costello Music,” saving crowd-pleasers like “Creepin Up the Backstairs” and “Chelsea Dagger” for the encore.
While they slowed down and somewhat country-fied the uptempo rocker “For the Girl,” most of the material mirrored the performances on “Costello Music.” Some tunes, like "Tell Me A Lie," had bluesy overtones, conjuring the early Stones, but most were firmly entrenched in early '60s and early '80s Britpop.
Drummer Gordon McRory (aka Mince Fratelli) was the band’s spark plug with a dynamic style that kept the band on track despite some occasional timing missteps. Bassist Barry Wallace, like McRory, chipped in harmonies. But singer and guitarist Jon Lawler was the focus, his guitar the fuel. Lawler’s curly mop obscured his face as he made a few remarks to the crowd between songs.
Most of those remarks were lost to a somewhat muddy mix was heavy on bass but lacked definition in the upper end, meaning some vocals were lost in the flood.
The show had two openers: Australia’s Dappled Cities, signed to Dangerbird Records, a label co-owned by Milwaukeean Jeff Castelaz and London-based glam purveyors Switches.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.