Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Live Review: Frankie & The Heartstrings, Hoults Yard Newcastle, 10/05/2012

The Neat, Let's Buy Happiness and Frankie & The Heartstrings; three of Northern England's hottest properties, all crammed under one roof, in a city warehouse, in a two-and-a-half hour time span. Not bad for £7. Ok, the stated purpose of the show was to showcase material from Frankie's in-the-works sophomore record, but given the calibre and locality of the supporting cast it felt like so much more.

Having travelled up from Hull, The Neat were very much the outsiders on the bill, but as is often the case it was they who made the most telling impact. The four-piece have been around the block for about three years now, and if nothing else leave an impression with their excitable Fall-esque take on post-punk. They've rearranged a little as of late, with singer Merrick 'Mez' Green ditching the guitar and maximising his role as spastic frontman, a shift which renders them an even more entertaining prospect. Hilarious and thrilling in equal measure, their performance certainly helped heat spectators still ringing themselves out from the torrential downpour outside. If only the same could be said of Let's Buy Happiness, the Newcastle locals who seemed somewhat pedestrian by comparison. They had a tough task in following The Neat, but sadly their Modest Mouse inspired quirks did little to catch my ear. They seemed to draw an enthusiastic response from pretty much everyone else present though, so maybe I'm the fool.

Despite headlining, Frankie & The Heartstrings only adorned the stage for 40 minutes - barely longer than their openers. They managed to get plenty done in that time though, fizzing through the old favourites with more gusto than ever while also gleefully displaying the fruits of their recent writing.

The latter category did of course provide the primary focus of the show, and on the whole the new songs were great. Some, namely 'Berlin Calls' and 'Everybody Looks Better (In The Right Light)' have already passed the road test having featured in setlists since the back end of last year, but tonight it was a less established number which shone brightest. With a jangly melodic drive reminiscent of The Smiths at their peak, 'She Will Say Goodbye' already sounds like a fan favourite in the making, and may just rank as their finest composition yet. No less addictive than the likes of 'Hunger' and 'Tender' whilst also incorporating a heightened emotional baggage, it was by some way the highlight of a night which only boded well for their immediate future. Sure, not all of the new songs reached quite such an impeccable standard, but each and every one fitted seamlessly among the more established cuts, suggesting that a repeat of Hunger's success may not be too tall an order. At the very least they look set to steer well clear of the dreaded 'sophomore slump.'


  1. I must have been at a different gig, Let's buy Happiness were anything but Pedestrian.with a perfect mix of energetic, and atmospheric songs.with soaring vocals.Your lack of narrative in your review would indicate they were of little interest to you.The appreciation shown by the crowd would indicate otherwise.  

  2. Yeah they did generally seem to go down well, I definitely seem to be in the minority. This was the second time I've seen them and unfortunately they've done nothing for me on either occasion.