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REVIEW; Frankie & The Heartstrings, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff.

Byline: David Owens

"WE'VE got a policywhere you can never rely on the crowd. A gig isn't their job. It's ours. You've got a responsibility to put on a show even if it's to just one person."

I knew I was going to enjoy Frankie & The Heartstrings when I read this eye-catching quote from the band's eminently watchable singer Frankie Francis - who, despite having the monicker of anEastEndgangster, actually hails from Sunderland.

Luckily for us the Wearsiders stay true to their live maxim with a set that purrs and powers in equal measure.

Andin themagnetic presence of their singer, they have a bequiffed urchin made for the role of frontman of a rock 'n' roll band.

He possesses the razor sharp swivelling hips of a council estate Brett Anderson, replete with Morrissey's crowning barnet, while his amusingly irregular dancing style - likehe's running in a force 10 gale - is particularly endearing.

They have the tight collared, short backandsides style of Postcard-era Aztec Camera and Orange Juice, and although their jaunty, quirky pop occasionally skirts the '80s sound of young Scotland, it's to fellow period-defining scene shapers that they take their cues.

In a set that rattles along at a feverish pace, enlivened by Frankie's arch on-stage banter,youcanhear thepurepopsensibilityof The Housemartins, the soulful passion of Dexys and even the serrated chords of angular post-punkers The Gang of Four.

Thankfully, however, there is one identifying influence which marks F&TH out as a truly intriguing prospect - they're thankfully not in thrall to any of their influences.

With romantic notions of pop music and wearing their heart firmly on their sleeves throughout, it's not difficult to understandwhy they've got the music press frothy mouthed and in a state of flux.

Standout Tender lollops along resplendent in its own grinning, dizzying spin - I'll Be Yours If You'll Be Mine, chirps Frankie as the brash youthful exuberance is turned up to 11.

Possibilities and Hunger are equally as colourful, rattling along with a taut zip and stylish panache.

The sweetest ache that is gig closerFragile is the lusciouslydeftdenouement of a set that squeezes in as much drama, passion and fun as it's possible to wrap your head round.

A hugely enjoyable evening then in the company of an assuredly charming man and his equally captivating outfit.


Frankie, left, and the Heartstrings, right David Owens
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 8, 2010
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