REVIEW: Frankie & the Heartstrings, DFDS ferry, somewhere in the North Sea

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Ahoy there music-lovers.

Sunderland sounds hit the high seas as city bands Frankie & the Heartstrings and Hyde & Beast took to the stage for a floating gig.

They’re not your usual brand of cruise liner entertainment, but the landlubber indie acts headlined aboard DFDS’s Amsterdam to Newcastle crossing as part of its series of North Sea Sounds music cruises.

Does it work as a concert concept? Frankie & Co certainly rocked the boat with a storming rendition of their most well-known tracks.

With Frankie’s trademark swagger and coiffed quiff at the helm of a tight band set, they must be one of the liveliest turns to have graced the ferry stage as they worked through the jaunty sing-a-long back catalogue that has helped them cement their reputation as a stellar live act.

While the ferry made its way across the North Sea, passengers put their sea legs to the test and danced the night away to indie pop tracks such as That Girl, That Scene and Tender, as well as perennial crowd-pleaser - and one time famous pizza brand advert anthem - Hunger.

Frankie & the Heartstrings on the North Sea Sounds cruise

Frankie & the Heartstrings on the North Sea Sounds cruise

Last time I was on this ferry there was a handful of people sitting on the dancefloor flailing their arms to Ooops Upside Your Head come midnight. This time the North Sea Sounds element gave the crossing an added dimension which filled the floor and helps the crossing on this mini cruise become as entertaining as its destination.

While the Heartstrings headlined on the outward voyage, they swapped slots with Hyde & Beast for the return journey who also got the crowd going with their smooth blend of psychedelia and punk.

As well as main stage entertainment in the Columbus Club nightclub, there was earlier acoustic sets in The Compass Bar from Jess Wilson, Tom Fletcher and Cornshed Sisters.

Capping off the night was snooker world champion Steve Davis who’s swapped his cue for curating prog-rock after turning his passion for electronic music into a craft which has seen him perform at Glastonbury. Far from just a novelty, he showed himself to be a credible DJ - or should that be Snooker Star DJ.

Hyde and Beast

Hyde and Beast

The extra entertainment is provided on the special North Sea Sounds Newcastle to Amsterdam mini-cruises, a route which operates daily from Royal Quays, North Shields to IJmuiden, just outside Amsterdam.

As well as the gigs, the tickets include two nights onboard in an en suite cabin, coach transfers to and from Amsterdam and up to five hours exploring its meandering canals.

It gives you just enough time to enjoy lunch and one of the Dutch capital’s many attractions. On this visit, we used the time to pay a visit to the Anne Frank House.

It’s a sombre tribute to the teenage girl whose diary has gone on to strike a chord with people around the globe, its empty rooms - where she and her family hid for two years - symbolising the void left by the millions of Holocaust victims who would never come home. You also get the chance to look at the real hand-written pages of her diary which have gone on to show that you don’t have to be a great hero to change the world.



We booked tickets months in advance, which give you a specified entry time, and it’s advisable to do so. With the book being so beloved by millions, it’s an unsurprisingly popular attraction for people who want to walk in the footsteps of this very human hero.

After the museum visit, a wander round and a meal, it was time to head back to the coach. A fleet of coaches is ready to take you into Amsterdam city centre from IJmuiden port, which takes around 40 minutes, when you dock at 9.30am and they pick you up between 3pm and 4pm for your return leg on the ferry which brings you back to the North East the following morning.

Fancy making waves on a music cruise yourself?

This season’s programme of North Sea Sounds - which has also included performances from Craig Charles and Smoove and Turrell as well as The Lindisfarne Story and Martin Stephenson - draws to a close on Friday, December 2 with a Bowie Ball, which celebrates the life and accomplishments of the late music legend.

Sea-farers are being asked to dress up as Bowie’s alter-egos Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom, Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke or any other persona, before partying away to tribute act Ronsonettes, one of the finest Bowie tribute acts, and DJ sets.

•Return prices for the Bowie Ball start from £74 per person, based on 2 people sharing. Book at or call 0871 522 9955.

One of Amsterdam's famous canals

One of Amsterdam's famous canals