Live Review: Frankie & The Heartstrings/Those Dancing Days/Veronica Falls @ Heaven, London

by Katherine

Sweet, sentimental and as skippy as a bush kangaroo, it’s christmas in indie paradise.

Woolly berets are tugged from heads, patterned scarves are untied from necks, and fashionably frayed fingerless gloves are slipped from hands as the crowd tumble in from the freezing London rain to the relative warmth of Heaven – and are promptly greated by the sight of numerous porn-tastic adverts. The home of London’s GAY, there couldn’t be a more unlikely venue for the ultra-chaste Veronica Falls, who combine school-girlish, Shangri-Las harmonies with vaguely doomy, bone-rattling bass. It’s all quite lovely in a sugary, ramshackle kind of way, but nothing new to anyone with a vague recollection of C-86 and the collected works of Amelia Fletcher.

They’re not so sweet any more, but it’s still easy to love Sweden’s Those Dancing Days. In Sweden’s great tradition, they epitomise indie-pop at it’s doe-eyed zenith of enchantment. Everything fits together perfectly – Rebecka’s guitar is satisfyingly tinny, toeing the line between being endearingly familiar without veering into ’80s pastiche. Lisa’s Hammond organ lends the whole affair a wonderful wooziness, like going on the waltzer at the fair a few too many times and nearly sicking up your candy floss, and Cissi’s drumming is nuclear-powered, her arms a barely visible blur as she clatters along in a never-ending solo. It’d be easy for lead singer Linnea to find herself smothered under this twee-pop triple-threat, but she’s golden-lunged enough to hold her own, her dulcet croons bobbing and shimmering above the frenzied instrumentation like a glittering buoy. The mad-eyed psycho-jitter of ‘I Know Where You Live Pt. 2’ manages to move the near-static too cool for school crowd into dancing, but it’s debut single ‘Hitten’ that proves the set highlight, finding Linnea warbling ‘Do you really think I give a damn now that I can whatever I want?’ with something akin to punk nochalance – well, as punk as a painfully polite swedish teenager in a pretty blue frock can possibly be.

Frankie & The Heartstrings bound onstage brimming with enthusiasm. ‘I HAVEN’T EATEN IN THREE DAYS!’ hollers wiry frontman (the eponymous) Frankie, before posturing wildly and hopping onto a speaker, his auburn quiff wobbling dangerously. Yes, you can map out where Frankie have lifted their influences wholesale – The Futurehead’s revving guitar lines, Bloc Party’s impassioned urgency, Orange Juice’s tense suaveness and Morrissey’s impossibly jerky dancing – but it doesn’t make them any less fun.

A crowd of bearded men, clad in plaid and clutching trumpets (heralded by Frankie screaming ‘Let’s get horny!’ – d’oh) add a pleasing touch of Belle & Sebastian-esque homeliness to the near-anthemic ‘Hunger’, and there’s a certain loveliness in the unfettered sentimentalism of an entire crowd braying along to lyrics like ‘I’ll be yours and you’ll be mine’ like they were especially written just for them. As the indie kids filter out, past the naked flesh, pulling their mittens firmly back on freezing fingers – their hands may be cold, but their hearts are now warmed.

(Published in NME Magazine)