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Frankie Francis kicks off the night by exclaiming something is not right, “there is a Jeff-spaced hole here at the front!” pointing at the void between the stage and the crowd, he is referencing to everyone local that knows, if 247 columnist Big Jeff is not at your show it’s not the best gig in Bristol that night. I guess this could be an unnerving start for a band that knows this, but to add to it the venue is sparsely covered this evening. This rescheduled show is the start of Frankie & The Heartstrings short seven-date UK tour.

Despite this, the five piece from Sunderland with their trendy retro style kick into their set with bounce opening with ‘Possibilities’. Next the new single ‘That Postcard’ which is released this month in conjunction with ‘PopSex Ltd’ their own label, by which the band was nearly named. Straight away I am struck by the commanding performance lead singer Frankie puts on. Somehow he gracefully hops around the stage leaving one leg in full swing at all times, full of exuberances and without a stumble. The gyrating showman is full of hand gestures and often running his hand through his well-maintained Teddy Boy quiff. These guys are definitely on to something different.

Frankie seems genuinely surprised at how quiet the crowd in the Fleece are tonight: “This is not what we normally expect from a Bristol show! What day is it today?” he muses. The crowd plucking up for the first time “Monday!” “Oh that’s why!? See it’s too many drugs, I don’t know what day it is!” “That’s what people do in industry isn’t it?” He jests with their vibe of squeaky-clean rock n rollers from the late fifties they appear a far stretch from the persona of the modern day rock star.

Playing through, in no particular order, the entirety of their 2011 album ‘Hunger’ with the added track of ‘Young Again’. We come across something new the boys have been working on in the last couple of weeks, Frankie believes that it is one of the best songs the boys have ever done ‘Berlin Calls’ for me it didn’t have the catching hook of 2011 single release ‘Hunger’ which is still stuck in my head, but maybe it needs time to grow. These Mackem boys are to me floor fillers for the indie disco, its just a shame the vibe on stage wasn’t emulated on the floor tonight.

Words and photos: Laura Palmer