Frankie & The Heartstrings at Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough on 16th May 2015

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The stage lights in the Westgarth Social Club are red and if you had to to pick a colour to describe Kingsley Chapman & The Murder’s opening set then that’s what you’d go for. Full of fire and guts and beautiful anger.

Recent single, ‘Poison Tongues’, is a discomforting listen. The relentless rhythm of two sets of drums and frenetic keyboards propel you through a claustrophobic world of blood and hate that is eased by an uplifting trumpet and violin refrain that reaches upwards, as Kingsley’s protagonist does, towards hope.

Set closer, ‘Olympians’ – a five minute ode-noir to an atypical love affair is already a live favourite and a frantic but measured wall of noise builds into a rousing finale to finish off a half-hour journey from the stars to the gutter and back again.

Night Flowers are a good band. They do that dreamy pop thing that seems to be particularly in vogue at the moment and are tugging at the curtains to let some sunlight in.

Layered and lush guitars are matched with dual male and female vocals that complement each other incredibly well. There’s also an unmistakeable whiff of the 1990s floating around. If you like the idea of The Beautiful South playing pop-punk as a soundtrack to those US teen dramas that everyone used to obsess over is your thing (and it should be, unless you’re dead inside) then you will love Night Flowers.

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The last show on Frankie & The Heartstrings’ mini tour in support of their new album is a bit of a coup for Middlesbrough and quite why they’re not selling out larger venues is a travesty as there’s nothing quite like their infectious rock ‘n’ roll influenced indie out there.

Always the showman; Frankie is big on stage presentation and there’s no let up in energy or jokes to keep everyone involved.

The accessibility of their music is a great unifier and the crowd, previously just appreciative, is now animated and involved.

There are a lot of hits in this set and ‘That Girl, That Scene’ is a frenetic highlight as is the ubiquitous pizza song (it’s called ‘Hunger’) has the audience singing along before it’s even really begun. A new song introduced with “we think it’s the best we’ve written but you decide” is opened up to the audience for a Juvenalian game of thumbs-up/thumbs-down. Obviously, it was always going to be a positive, as was the entire evening. A polished, manicured and glittery two thumbs-up.

Reviewer and Photographer: Nick Wesson

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