Frankie and the Heartstrings, 100 Club, London
Monday 07 June 2010
Frankie and the Heartstrings entered 2010 so hotly tipped, it's a wonder their quiffs aren't singed. In their first headline London gig, they show what all the fuss has been about.
But while the band from Sunderland blaze onstage, they fail to fully ignite the audience till near the end of the set.
Their vocalist, Frankie Francis, is a natural frontman. He's got the swagger and the voice, which slips between dulcet tones, emotion-soaked yelps and punkish shouting with disconcerting ease. His moves are pretty distinctive too – all camply cultured, limp-wristedly flopping his microphone around and swooning against its stand while singing about "Tender Is the Night", or frowning earnestly while hopping round in circles.
Their set is short but sharp (they've only released one EP), and there's a vigour here that's lacking from most guys/guitars/tight jeans combos that have turned indie into the blandest genre going in recent years.
"Obvious" sports dancefloor-filling beats and the urgent guitar and vocals of a Kings of Leon single. "Ungrateful" is introduced by Francis as his favourite song, along with "The Power of Love", that one which soundtracked Back to the Future. "Ungrateful" might not be quite as 1980s-tastic as that, but you can certainly hear the influence of that decade; the open sounding, jangle guitar here is pure Johnny Marr.
The single "Hunger" is well received and rightly so; its tasty hooks make it an instantly memorable track. "Well it's about time that we made a stand, and started playing together in our own band," sings Francis, and the track catches a youthful, playing-in-the-garage exuberance.
Their last track, "Fragile", showcases just how sweet Francis's vocals can be before descending into feedback madness for a big finish. The band dash off stage. There's no chance of an encore – presumably they've played all their material – but something tells me we'll be seeing more of them soon.
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