Frankie & The Heartstrings

Frankie & The Heartstrings


It’s a Tuesday night in rainy Manchester and I’m ditching the weeknight slippers and mind-numbing “I only eat cheese – Dinnerdate special” TV to venture out into my favourite part of the city – The Northern Quarter. I’m a fairly new listener of Frankie & the Heartstrings, a 5 piece band from Sunderland, but their catchy tune ‘I Will Follow You’ has still managed to find it’s way onto my creatively named “Indie, Indie, mostly Indie” playlist on Spotify, sandwiched somewhere between The Maccabees and The Cribs; there are worse places to be.

Not only is this the first time I’ll be seeing this band live, it’s also the night I am to pop my Gullivers cherry as it’s a venue I’ve been meaning to visit for a while, based upon its great reputation for supporting new bands and the rumours that this small retro venue hosts some great cosy gigs. I make it here early as I am always keen to catch support bands when I can. It’s seeing support acts that’s helped uncover some of my favourite music, and tonight’s support acts are certainly worth a mention. The wonderfully named Ladies Darts Night are punching the audience with raw attitude, a bit like a teenage Sleaford Mods. Whilst Hello Operator are an incredibly tight band, which is particularly impressive because of how young they are, although that may be all down to a good moisturising routine.

After the warm-up sets and a beer I’m eagerly anticipating the headline act of the evening – Frankie & The Heartstrings; as they take to the stage I overhear a few people whisper, ‘Is the guy in the glasses that man from The Futureheads?” Yes, on guitar you can find – Ross Millard of hounds of loving Futureheads fame and as the evening progresses I begin to spot a similarity in the sound between the two bands.  While lead singer Frankie Francis skips onto stage he welcomes the Manchester crowd and the band burst into ‘Decency’, the title track from their 2015 album release. I’m immediately hit by how amazing the 50s rock n’ roll style vocals are live, on record they sound smooth, but up close it really showcases how unique and vital Frankie’s voice is to the band.

It doesn’t take long for a fairly subdued crowd to start bopping and hopping along to the music, especially to the most upbeat tracks like ‘Think Yourself Lucky’ another from the latest album, but it is ‘Money’ that seems to be the biggest pleaser of them all, after a little encouragement from the band they shout “Let’s have a festival in here” and everyone has their arms in the air clapping along. Their infectious and joyous pop literally make it impossible to keep still, toe-tapping, hip-shaking and swaying – all the moves are on show. Half way through the night a great addition to the group – their very own blonde curly haired trumpet player – takes to the stage, with drummer Dave Harper commenting “It’s been slim pickings since Napoleon Dynamite”. This is part of these north-eastern lads charm, their warmth and wit; when you watch and interact with a band live and feel like they could be the mates you’d share a pint with and maybe even share a bag of nuts with, it makes you like them even more.

The highlight of the night comes when they play their latest song, a cover of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons ‘The Night’, a northern soul classic and it is truly brilliant and dare I say it, I think I prefer it to the original.  It’s the first time they have ever played this cover live and they totally nail it, for anyone that perhaps hasn’t yet been completely convinced by their performance, this definitely wins them over. And so does the final song of the evening, the mesmerising ‘Fragile’, a gorgeous piece of music from their first album Hunger (2011) – it is the perfect end to a great set.

I can now safely say I am a fan of this band – I like Frankie & the Heartstrings, they’re welcome back in Manchester anytime and I might even buy them that bag of nuts if they’re lucky.

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Sarah Starkey

I am a Freelance Writer who is a bit music obsessive. Previously written for the likes of Music Vita and Planet Ivy. Life highlights include winning £2.50 on the Euro-millions.