Review: Frankie and the Heartstrings hit Reading with their indie sound

Frankie and the Heartstrings

Frankie and the Heartstrings played to an annoyingly small crowd in the Purple Turtle in Reading last night.

Big gigs are great. Big bands, big stages, big crowds. But sometimes the best gigs are the small ones where all the senses can be infiltrated by the band on show.

Last night Frankie and the Heartstrings did just that.

Playing at the Purple Turtle in Reading the Sunderland five-piece were a long way from home and looking around they might have been wondering what the journey was for. The crowd was small and most had not turned up specifically for the band. Mostly workers still in their day attire grabbing a cheeky late one before skulking home, they were in for a treat.

The band were on great form, even if the circumstances were not befitting of such talent.

They played most of their greatest hits, with the well known 'Hunger' grabbing the attention of many an uninterested bystander who, perhaps, recognised the tune from the latest Inbetweeners movie or that Dominos advert.

Other notable tracks included 'That Girl, That Scene' which really picked up the mood among the crowd and 'Tender' which created spinning and cavorting aplenty.

The eponymous Frankie has great stage presence. Twinkling around the stage with a touch of Jarvis Cocker he sold the content with aplomb. Drummer Dave Harper did his best to involve the diluted crowd whilst former Futurehead Ross Millard was flawless on guitar. The whole performance was ably supported by local band Mellor, who riffed their way into the conversations of many.

They ended with style, roaring into the Berkshire night with a rendition of 'Fragile' that began delicate before slicing intermittently into frenzy and finishing in a crescendo of feedback and thrashing.

The likes of the Palma Violets and The Vaccines hit it bigger than Frankie and co ever did. But to think this once top 40 band are playing this type of gig is a shame. Their talent far outweighs their current popularity. A word of warning to the likes of Catfish and the Bottlemen - this is where the road ends if for some reason the radio grows tired of your sound.

But it really is inexplicable.

There was two disappointments from the set. They left 'Don't Look Surprised' from the setlist. Possibly their best anthem, it is an underheard and under-rated track that would have fitted the scene superbly.

The other disappointment is that more people didn't turn up on a bitter Tuesday evening to see such an excellently perfected display of chirpy indie rock.

They hit Scotland soon, with dates at Edinburgh and Glasgow and hopefully they will receive more appreciation north of the border. They certainly deserve it.