Manchester’s Deaf Institute is fast securing its reputation as one of Manchester’s finest music venues. Having barely recovered from the well-received Postcards From Manchester festival/new bands showcase, and with an impending date from that most resilient of Scotsmen Edwyn Collins, tonight it played host to three buzz bands: openers Spectrals and joint headliners Summer Camp and Frankie & The Heartstrings.
Playing to a decent sized crowd for an opening act, Spectrals do a sterling job of priming the audience. Clearly enthralled with the sounds of the ’60s as far as melody is concerned, and with Phil Spector as far as overall sound is concerned, they successfully bridge the gap between the atmospheric sound of Summer Camp and the straight-ahead romp of Frankie & The Heartstrings.
It’s clear that Manchester loves Summer Camp given the sudden increase in crowd mass towards the end of Spectrals’ set. Two people finding enough stage presence to satisfy a large crowd can sometimes be a challenge, but Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey pull it off effortlessly. Combining favourites such as Round The Moon, Ghost Train and Was It Worth It alongside new tracks Remember and Losing My Mind demonstrates that the songwriting well remains far from dry for the forseeable future.
Frankie & The Heartstrings’ more straightforward musical stylings, compared to the more sophisticated offerings from the support acts, might at first seem an unorthodox choice. However, the energy and enjoyment that all onstage (and indeed offstage – Frankie Francis at one point ends up in the midst of the crowd) appear to be having is too infectious to ignore, making it a near-perfect end to the night. Set highlight Hunger sees crowd participation en mass, while additional singles Tender and fragile also result in large-scale audience singalongs, and display their potential for bridging the gap between mainstream and alternative crowds (much like contemporaries and near-neighbours Maxmo Park and The Futureheads).
The bands have, tonight at least, justified the hype, and the crowd leaves satisfied. On paper the differing styles of the acts on offer shouldn’t work as a cohesive mass, but the fact that they do only adds to the sense of occasion. The video for the Arctic Monkeys‘ I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor saw Alex Turner intone ‘don’t believe the hype’. As far as Spectrals, Summer Camp and Frankie & The Heartstrings are concerned, do.