Sometimes The Harley works as a venue, and sometimes it doesn’t. As opening act Sissy and the Blisters took to the stage, it wasn’t clear which way tonight would go. With their carnivalesque keyboard and highly styled set, they’re a great choice to start things off tonight, but the audience isn’t yet engaged.
That doesn’t put the band off though. They are loud – easily louder than Frankie and the Heartstrings – and unapologetically so. By the end of their set, which finishes with some deafeningly high energy percussion, the crowd is paying attention, and it looks like tonight will go swimmingly.
By the time Frankie and the Heartstrings take to the stage, to the siren sounds of Sweet’s ‘Blockbuster’, the majority of the audience has peeled themselves away from the bar, and are ready for some fun. The Sunderland quintet does not disappoint. There are a mix of fans in the Harley, some dedicated long-timers losing themselves to the music nearer the front, and more fair-weather fans who hopefully might have found something new to enjoy, given that the set was split between older favourites and new material.
‘Hunger’ was a clear crowd-pleaser, with Frankie proving the perfect frontman and swinging his arms to rouse a singalong. His cavorting around the stage during the gig was certainly appreciated by the female members of the audience, as was a dedication to Sheffield band the Crookes (who just happened to be in the crowd as well). The “woah woah woahs” that are a Heartstrings staple in so many of their songs filled the Harley with good cheer, despite the cold weather. Afterwards, the band exercised their effortless cool by hanging out with fans at the bar, which was a delight for all.