– THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER –
“Thank you so much for being here” shouts singer Jen Ahlkvist, almost out of breath, one song in, blonde fringe already thick with sweat. The modest audience bunch together to intensify the heat in the room. Perhaps they’re holding on for their lives, because there is something so visceral about The Franklys noise that it’s like a bodily force.
The snug surroundings of The Castle usually make for a more intimate feel to a show, and this atmosphere is no exception whilst the band take to the stage – being close to stage always puts you a special level with the performer that you wouldn’t get staring at a screen at the Arena – however the volume is set firmly on 11 tonight and any intimacy is lost between us. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, the band clearly have nothing to hide, nothing to say except ‘We’re fucking playing now, you best pay attention’. We’re listening. One guy is even recording the set…with a camera in each hand, at the same time.
The appeal is the classic combination of a vicious cleverness at the heart of a dumb, intoxicating noise. The fun and havoc the band wreaks upon the stage is the sight to behold the most, with a certain sense of innocent in their performance as well; it’s all thrash and no ego. The songs may be rudimentary but they are also red-raw and urgent – ‘Bad News’ has a pulsating sound that’s layered with a pop hook in raw disguise. New single ‘Come Down’ has fantastic explosions of noise with a memorable chorus. The truculent vocals are alive, something like Courtney Love but without the disaffected drawl, more aggressive. Drummer Nicole Pinto has the prowess of a band leader, squeezed in tightly behind the kit, holding the gaze of each member of the audience as she nonchalantly smashes everything within reach – again something like Courtney Love but with more lipstick.
The Franklys may still need a killer tune to stomp into the mainstream and the vocals maybe hidden behind fringe and noise tonight, not as prominent as on their records but, thankfully, that’s not the point – concealed away behind the flying hair and raised guitars, is the product of this band; four musicians who have come together to make sweet, sweet noise. Let my ears ring for days to come.
Read the review on Silent Radio