Frankie and the Heartstrings: The Plug, Sheffield

Topman CTRL Student Parties bring a free gig to Sheffield, boasting the much lauded Frankie And The Heartstrings, who headline every gig on the short tour with a different support at each venue. Sheffield hosts Lets Buy Happiness, a quintet from Newcastle Upon Tyne, fronted by the diminutive Sarah Hall, another whose powerful voice belies their size.

Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens has chosen the line ups for the tour and the early crowd are treated to a video of the Welsh wizard introducing the acts.

NME Radio have provided one of their up and coming DJ’s to provide sounds before and in-between the bands in the form of 24 year old Owen Davies, whose mainly up tempo indie tunes set the tone for the evening.

With video screens littering the stage and cameras placed strategically all the angles are covered and displayed in real time. First to grace the stage are Ms Hall and crew featuring her brother James on guitar. Sarah, the opposite of a rock chick, in demure buttoned up blouse and pleated skirt banters with the crowd, most of whom are obviously drawn here to see Frankie and Co later, but she isn’t put off by the muted response and they roar into their edgy, offbeat and at times raw set. The pick are the new single Fast Fast and the closer, last years début offering 6 Wolves, which just about win over a tough crowd.

Frankie And The Heartstrings are being touted for stardom and after sneaking into the top 40 album charts with début Hunger, no mean feat when its released via an independent label, the buying public may well agree.

The focal point is undoubtedly Frankie Francis, a vulnerable looking, slightly effeminate figure, sporting a quiff to die for and just oozing style. The Sunderland boys start with the excellent Possibilities, and Frankie is, at times awkward looking, and his animated performance includes frantic running on the spot and balancing on the front skirt of the stage. The frontman drew virtually all the attention of the audience, which was perhaps a little unfair on the likes of guitarist / keys player Mick Ross who was on top of his game and drove the music forward.

Frankie’s vocals on their short impact laden songs, like album title track and crowd sing-along Hunger, seem a perfect fit and though there are a few fillers in their 11 song 40 minute set, there is enough substance to warrant much of the attention going the bands way. Their closer, and highlight for me, the bluesy Fragile builds to a crescendo to close an entertaining evening that a packed venue acknowledge with loud cheers.