Frankie And The Heartstrings, The Empire, Middlesbrough 12/02/11


“Two fat ladies. You and your mam!!!!”

As I lie in bed debating whether or not it is too late to roll over and go back to sleep or too early to get up and go to church my mind is lost in a debate of its own making; who do Frankie & the Heartstrings remind me of? The Smiths? Well yes. A little bit. The enigmatic singer, the jangly guitars, the instant tunes to swirl around the room to. But thats a bit obvious isn’t it? They haven’t quite hit the heights of a new Smiths. Not yet anyway. Despite the 3 page features in the NME and the hype surrounding their soon to be released album; Hunger. It hasn’t quite transpired into bums on seats. I know. I know, there are no seats in this venue but you understand my musings. They have the potential but in the here and now they’re still working on it. Raymonde. Thats who. Frankie is a dead ringer for James Maker. He prowls the stage like he’s playing Wembley Stadium. He relates to the crowd like there’s thousands. The tunes are there, the time is right but they haven’t quite managed to convince the world outside. Raymonde never did convince the world. Despite a fabulous debut album (Babelogue 1987) and numerous support slots  with The Smiths they never quite did it. Hopefully Frankie & the Heartstrings will not go the same way.

Tonight when we arrive at the venue, after meeting the wife at the bingo. Bingo? Yes, bingo, very fitting before seeing the next big thing. The place is dead. I mean dead. There’s less than 30 people in the place!!! As Frankie hit the boards at 11:45 the place is half to three quarters full but not because of Sunderlands own wayward sons but because this is Saturday night in Middlesbrough and this is an after pub hours indie disco. As they blast into Possibilities I walk from the side bar to the stage. Not near the stage but actually stood with my beer on the stage. Half way through their rip roaring set I walk to the bar to obtain another drink and casually walk back to my place at the front. No mosh pit. No people to push out of the way. Straight to the front. Now this has two elements to it. Firstly, it is fantastic. I am seeing one of my favourite bands in a class venue and I can walk straight to the front and touch Frankie, if I want to. (Thankfully I resist the temptation. The wife is with me remember???) Secondly, it is an absolute disgrace. One of the finest new bands are playing only 30 miles from their home town on a Saturday night and hardly anyone has come to see them. Yes the venue looks quite full but the majority are standing around waiting for something else. A drink, a hit record by the Arctic Monkeys, a snog or anything but Sunderlands finest. I am asked on more than one occassion “Who is this?”. I am tempted to lie and make up a name or tell them its the Mystery Jets. (They’ll be none the wiser) but no I say it’s Frankie & the Heartstrings and they’re going to be massive. A couple smile and say yes, they’re quite good. Quite good? Quite good? They’re brilliant, and in six months time after the album has sold its first million you will tell people “Oh I saw them in the Empire before they were famous”. No you didn’t. You stumbled across them, paid very little attention and had to ask some bloke at the stage who they were!!! Don’t pretend to be hip and trendy after the event.

So, were they actually any good. Should we believe the hype? Hell yes. They storm through song after song. Potential hit after hit. Frankie has the presence of, yes I’ll say it, a young Morrissey. A young James Maker. A young Mick Jagger. The others look cool and play even cooler tunes. But, but, but don’t believe the bloke at the stage. Go get Hunger, go see them at The Cluny on Tuesday night or any of the other dates on this tour. Believe the hype. Take them to your hearts. The milk train will certainly not stop here again so get on it whilst its still in the station.





Want you back

It’s obvious



Young Again

Don’t look surprised



Afterwards I speak to the band and invite them to a special event happening in June. If that sounds secretive then it is meant to. All will be revealed soon. And hopefully you will have the chance to see Frankie and the boys in the flesh again. All will be revealed very soon. Excited? You should be……

More photos of last nights gig can be found at our Facebook page or here if you don’t have Facebook (who doesn’t have Facebook????)



FRANKIE & THE HEARTSTRINGS      http://frankieandtheheartstrings.com

THE EMPIRE     http://www.theempire.co.uk/home.html

By peter on February 13, 2011

Check out all the pics

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