Frankie And The Heartstrings – Heaven, London 21/02/11

Tonight Heaven plays host to a Shockwaves NME Awards show which will be headlined by Sunderland’s favourite sons Frankie & The Heartstrings, who are also celebrating the release of their début album which came out today. Before we get to all of that though, London’s Veronica Falls have the honour of opening proceedings – and a stellar job they do, too.
They play their way, at break-neck speed, through an impressive repertoire of distorted lo-fi, indie-pop gems. Songs like ‘Found Love In A Graveyard’ and ‘Beachy Head’ perfectly illustrate their knack for writing an infectious chorus and the only negative thing about the show is the fact that the room is barely half full while they play. All of those too cool to get to the venue early enough to catch these guys missed out.

Next was the turn of Sweden’s Those Dancing Days. These girls have such an energy about them and the kind of stage presence that makes it impossible not to enjoy their show. They have pretty much single handedly restored my faith in pop music of late, proving that it can be original, charming and engrossing all at the same time.Tonight they further my admiration for them, playing a dazzling set that mixes new songs and fan favourites alike. The best of the new ones being ‘I’ll Be Yours’ which sounds like an instant hit but the biggest cheer of their set is reserved for a song also called ‘Those Dancing Days’.

If singer Linnea Jönsson’s voice is the most striking thing when you listen to the record, when you see them live the star of the show is undoubtedly Lisa Pyk. She spends the entire set hopping around – limbs flailing everywhere – behind her keyboards embossed with the slogan ‘Live Wild, Die Free’. It is a sensational show and you can imagine that Frankie and the boys are waiting at the side of the stage shitting their pants at the prospect of following it.

Before too long after Frankie And The Heartstrings take the stage it becomes apparent that front-man Frankie Francis might actually have been shitting himself whilst watching the previous band. Not because he was scared of following them – they had already blown any doubt well out of the water with blistering opener ‘Possibilities’. It seems however, that Frankie has a stomach bug. ‘I’ve hardly eaten for three days’ he announces, ‘and I haven’t stopped shitting.’ What a charmer.
If he’s feeling under the weather though, he certainly doesn’t show it as he struts and swoons his way around the stage like a young Morrissey.

He is as engaging a front-man as you are likely to see and he applies his impeccable vocal to the jangly indie-pop tunes with impressive skill. As the band hit their stride there is almost a swagger about them and things begin to heat up. Album opener ‘Photograph’ becomes a riotous sing-a-long and when Frankie asks ‘How’s your singing London?’ and the opening notes of ‘Hunger’ fill the room the crowd respond by bellowing the ‘Oh Oh Oh‘ chorus long before the official cue.

As momentum finally yields for a mass rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ for bass player Dennis and then a rather warming thank you speech to all who have contributed to their success (Wesley Snipes and Peter Reid each get a mention) it becomes clear that the evening is drawing to an end. No matter though, they saved the best for last closing with slow-burner ‘Fragile’, which builds and builds until it explodes into a mass of screeching guitars and pounding drums – the crowd bounce around all over the place and the huge grins plastered across the bands faces suggest that they may have enjoyed themselves just as much as we have. They reluctantly down tools and exit the stage and fans and band alike, leave more than satisfied.

Tonight was FATH’s biggest ever headline gig. With a performance like this you would not bet on that record standing for very long.

-David Tinkler
Written for The 405

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