REVIEW: Sunderland’s Frankie and the Heartstrings show their true colours

Frankie and the Heartstrings - Frankie Francis, Michael McKnight, Dave Harper, Steve Dennis and Mick Ross.
Frankie and the Heartstrings - Frankie Francis, Michael McKnight, Dave Harper, Steve Dennis and Mick Ross.
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“WE’RE Frankie and the Heartstrings and we’re from Sunderland.”

It was a bold way to start for a Wearside band performing in the heart of Newcastle, but such is the confidence of Frankie et al that they believe their music can conquer.

After a few mostly good-natured jeers from some in the predominantly young, male audience, Frankie and the Heartstrings got down to business.

By the end of a punchy, breathless, energetic set, they had most of the packed Newcastle O2 Academy firmly behind them.

The Heartstrings are punkier than their debut album Hunger suggests and this is coming out more and more each time I see them live.

Starting with four of the first five tracks from Hunger – Photograph, Ungrateful, Postcard and Tender – there was little time wasted between numbers.

A pocket of Frankie fans near the front got a mini-mosh going as a trio of new tracks were tested.

I’d heard the first and third before – Berlin Calls and new single, out on Monday, Everybody Looks Better (In The Right Light) – but the middle one, First Boy, was new to me and showed real variety in their work.

The set closed with a well-supported sing-along to previous single Hunger before the lads rocked out to Fragile, which thankfully they managed to get through without a fuse blowing.

I always find Frankie and the Heartstrings infectious live with Frankie’s expressive leadership on vocals and the driving, well-knit backing of acerbic drummer Dave Harper – who is never short of a verbal contribution to proceedings – Micky Ross and Michael McKnight on guitars and Steve Dennis on bass.

Their sound is getting bigger and I’m sure their appeal will do the same.

The year closes with more shows supporting The Vaccines and a big homecoming show at The Independent in Sunderland on December 29.

Tickets priced £10 are available by clicking here or visiting www.netickets.net.