Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Frankie & The Heartstrings / Let’s Buy Happiness @ The Hare and Hounds, Tuesday 10th May

Without wishing to put unpleasant images into your head (as if that’s ever stopped me) I’ve been suffering from a nasty case of the old norovirus this week....projectile ‘emissions’ ahoy. How can one tiny little virus cause such mayhem eh? Mindful of the fact that music heals all however I dragged what’s left of my severely desiccated frame off to the Hare and Hounds in the hope of making a Lazurus like recovery.

First up Let’s Buy Happiness. Great name. Happiness eh? What is it? How much is it? And where the hell do you buy it from? I’d normally plump for a pint of Old Rosie from Wetherspoon’s...but in my fragile state maybe a large bottle of Pepto-Bismol’s a better idea. Anyway, imagine the love child of Siouxsie Sioux and Liz Fraser (Cocteau Twins) fronting first album era Foals and you’ve got some idea of the ‘Let’s Buy Happiness’ sound. When lead singer Sarah lets rip she’s got a surprisingly strong voice which, combined with some cutesy bopping about, makes her the perfect indie pop package. They’ve got some good tracks too, from the floaty ‘Works Better on Paper’ through to the more drum beat driven ‘Fast Fast’. If sonically multi textured indie’s your bag, happiness is pretty much guaranteed.

Speaking of indie, who’s the number one male indie pin up of all time? Easy. No contest. So if you’re going to take your inspiration from someone why not go straight to the Mozfather eh? Lead singer Frankie’s done just that, pulling off some perfect Moz moves tonight, from the trademark mic whip right through to the old hand on hip, I’m a little teapot pose...he’s even got a proto Moz quiff on the go. Musically though (whilst there are some odd particular reference to watching Mike Leigh’s Naked in ‘Tender’ stood out) the band draws influences from everything from 50’s rock n’roll to 80’s Postcard era 80’s indie, pulling it altogether into one of the most grin inducing sounds around right now pop fans. Fact. Lordy I enjoyed this gig, even in my enfeebled state. On top of track after track of instantly catchy indie pop loveliness coupled with Frankie’s energetic performance the band’s got that rare knack of building a great instant rapport with an audience. Responding to an early bit of friendly audience banter (someone shouted out ‘why-aye’...the band’s from Sunderland and all have the accent) the drummer offered his own take on what he called ‘Birmanese’...a high pitched take on the legendary Birmingham twang. Damned fact he was pretty amusing all night, berating one of the guitarists for being a ‘daft c**t’, threatening to beat the merch guy for not flogging CD’s properly and begging the audience to blow on him ‘cos he was getting too hot. Comic genius aside, from opening number ‘Photograph’ right through to the night’s closer ‘Fragile’ (one of the band’s few low key tracks) there wasn’t a duff second.

Conjuring up comparisons with The Rumble Strips, Vincent Vincent and the Villains, Orange Juice (interestingly Edwyn Collins produced their debut album) and fellow Geordies Maximo Park they’re a band that deserves to be clutched to our collective indie bosom like a bottle of Newkie Brown. Amazingly their album, Hunger, has, to date, only reached number 32 in the charts, a fact ruefully acknowledged by Frankie tonight “It fell to 138 the following week. It’s tough in the music biz if the supermarkets don’t stock you”. Good god...what’s the world coming to when something as beautiful, inspiring and powerful as music’s being stocked next to sodding tins of baked beans eh? It’s a serious point. With HMV inevitably on their way out (it’s only a matter of time sadly) and a tsunami of free tracks online you have to fear for the next generation of bands. Oh well, if pop is destined to eat itself (and its young) I can’t think of a better soundtrack than Frankie & The Heartstrings right now. Gan on and give ‘em a listen, alreet?

PS: Amazingly I did feel better after the gig...maybe they should be available on the NHS?

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