Not only is this the 15th year of Fred Zeppelin’s, but scarily it is also the 20th anniversary of the release of Trains, Boats and Planes by The Frank and Walters. The Franks have never actually played Fred’s before but have conducted many of their post gig celebrations afterwards and the recordings that made their names were done not too far from the venue itself.
Where it all began
Back then burst out of Ballincollig in Cork in a blaze of orange flares, bowel haircuts and irresistible indie pop hooks and took the UK by storm. Singles After All and Fashion Crisis hits New York both made the top 20 and they played Top of the Pops to support them. Gigs that they played saw them bring along little known bands such as Suede and Radiohead and employed Noel Gallagher briefly as a roadie. He set up a band afterwards with his brother seemingly. The fact that they by-passed the somewhat incestuous Dublin music scene did not especially endear them to the media, who sneeringly dismissed them and have done since. After the initial burst of success, issues with record label Go Discs, ground them to a halt and meant that there was a five year gap to their next release. To their credit they have continued on despite all this and producing excellent music through-out. Songs containing messages of hope, fear, loss and love should never be ignored or put-down.
This is not an exercise in pointless nostalgia though, like many bands. They released the excellent Greenwich Meantime earlier on this year and the band is eager to show that they have a lot more to offer.
Supporting The Franks tonight is local outfit, Trumpets for Jericho, or rather Tom Healy from the band doing a solo set. This had only been announced earlier on in the day so quite a lot of people present did not really know who it was to begin with. Perhaps it would have been more successful for him to have the back-up of the rest of the band but I thought he pulled it off. Reminded me at times of an Irish Mark E Smith channelling the spirit of Madcap laugh’s era Syd Barrett. At times angry and at times melancholic, he perseveres well and gets a good reception.
The Franks kick off with a selection of tracks from the new album and all of them sounded extremely strong and un-mistakenly Franks like. Some have called opening track, Landslide as from the Grand Parade album, as being Memory Lane. Not too sure of that though. Maybe so. Hearing Looking for America was an un-expected treat as not too many of the under-rated Glass tracks are played these days. This was mixed up with Greenwich tracks like Each Tree, Trust in the Future and Loneliness and Sweet Romance. Another un-expected surprise was hearing Mrs Xavier, one of the album tracks from Grand Parade. Little Dolls and especially Berlin, gave guitarist Rory Murphy a chance to display his talents, whilst Paul Linehan concentrated on vocals temporarily. Time for a lot of bantering from the band and the crowd also towards him. He seems to be well settled in following the decision of Niall Linehan to leave around 2002 in a period of un-certainty for the band.
Being that time of year I suppose gave them the chance to air another one of their Christmas songs in Song for a Future Love. The crowd was busily requesting songs now at this stage and in fact gave an impromptu version of Happy Busman which brought the remark “well at least we don’t have to play that one now”! Another crowd favourite in the form of We are the Frank and Walters got its usual airing. There on, the band ploughed through some of the classic Grand Parade and Trains tracks in the form of Colours, After All, Fashion Crisis, Fast Anthony and This is not a song. For some of these, Paul reverted to the instrument that he initially started his Franks career on, the bass. Ashley Keating also played some guitar as well. New single That’s Life also got an airing and the band have certainly been busy recently in promoting this excellent track. They finished off then with the elegant Restraint which was a B-side to Indian Ocean.
Was that it? The crowd certainly wanted more and they got what they wanted. My friend had popped downstairs thinking it was over so I managed to get them back up. They did an encore of the excellent Indie Love Song and finished off with Time. Probably because the barman was about to call that and playing music in a small place as this is thirsty work! Appropriate though considering the thematic aspect of time in their new album. The effects of time in modern society and this track certainly reflected that. I do like to take the lesson of hope from this track of “I’ll hold on til’ I reach my peak”. Because the band are certainly considering to hit the heights and maybe we all can have better things ahead for us all.