ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Go Frankie go!

Paul Bursche on the tour that turned Mark OToole into a teen idol. Photos by John Stoddart.

I step out of the taxi and a loud groan goes up.

Whats up? My presence has caused some bad reactions before, but not this bad.

But as far as the thirty or so fans grouped around the Glasgow Holiday Inn are concerned, my main, problem is that Im not Mark OToole, or any member of the Frankie clan come to that.

If I were, the reaction might just have been a little different.

Its lunchtime and here are the group, tumbling down after last nights exertions.

Ped is steaming through the all-day breakfast while Nash takes his with a huge glass of milk, his patent hangover cure. Holly, a renowed early riser, was up hours ago, swimming in the pool next to the bar.

The purpose of my visit is to turn the spotlight on Mark, fast emerging as the hottest sex symbol since John Taylor.

It was Taylor who recently complimented Mark for his services to the image of bass players everywhere. But this means nothing to Ped and Nash.

“Dyou realise, Ped?” asks Nash, “that its only me and you that havent had a No. 1 cover by ourselves yet?”

“Its just not on,” Ped agrees.

But Frankie are going to be glad of it. As part of the course thatll take them into the next ten years of success, they need a bona fide pin-up.

Already this tour has seen the transformation of Frankie from cultural phenomenon into classic rock band, with the five distinct personalities and roles coming to the fore.

Theres Holly, singer and extrovert; Paul, onstage dervish, offstage diplomat; Nash, guitars and rocknroll antics; Ped, drums and a firm grip on reality.

And Mark. Bass player, boy about town, sex symbol.

A new god?

After the soundcheck—a chilly affair in the freezing Apollo, brightened only by the gaggle of fans running about in the Upper Circle shouting and screaming at the lads—we adjourn to the hotel bar. Well, why not?

Its quiet, intimate and very dark. A young fan approaches, for the moment not spying Mark, who makes a comment causing her to turn and actually gasp aloud. Shes struck speechless.

Nasher and Ped wade In.

“Go on, touch ‘im,” guffaws Nash.

“Can I?” she whispers—and does.

“Touch ‘is hair, its great,” suggests the ever-helpful Ped. “Give ‘im a kiss, hell like that!”

Mark suffers the abuse in stoic silence, blushing furiously.

(cont.)
But he gets his own back later. Nash, he tells me, is jealous because he used to get most of the fan mail and now Mark does.

Paul arrives, looking as immaculate as ever, and he and Mark go for a swim—to the obvious approval of those fans in the bar with the poolside view.

Mark and Paul get on very well. A lots been said about the three lads and Paul and Holly. On this tour its not working out like that.

Holly is very rarely seen—he prefers to stick to the confines of his room, much as Boy George was forced to do on the last Culture Club tour. He doesnt come to the bar after a gig, or fraternise much at all with the others. Youre far more likely to see Paul and Mark out on the town together, dressed in the same sort of expensive designer gear.

“Yes, Mark is definitely moving into the other camp,” joshes Nash.

After a night out, though, Mark is more cheerful. “This man,” he says putting a comradely arm around Paul, “is a true lad.”

Paul grins in agreement. The two are engaged at this moment in comparing expensive Yamamoto slippers. £150 a pair. £150!

Frankie play own instruments shock

Frankie start their show as they mean to go on. Teasingly.

As the intro music plays, the curtain goes up to reveal them with their backs to the audience, waiting to whirl around for the opening chords of ‘War. Wonderful stuff.

Few bands could go so far over the top so quickly but the Franks go all the way, sneak around the back and then enter the stage left again.

And they can play! Theyve got radio transmitters on their guitars, though, so the pick-up leads dont get in their way. Its a common enough device, used by most top groups, but you can still see people peering intently, looking for any deviation between what they can hear and what they can see.

Theres none, of course.

Playing on a stage that resembles nowt so much as the top of a nuclear silo, the concert flies by. Frankie live are bigger, bolder and better than any of their records. Theyre enough at times to make your knees wobble.

The show also has a lot of humour to boot, something you could never capture on a record, whether its Hollys outrageous costumes, Pauls madcap antics, or Mark and Nashs duoing a la Martin and Gary Kemp.

Glasgow roars its approval.

Your Glasgow correspondent

Back at the hotel its chaos. The band have dashed in and straight up to their rooms. Tour manager Ian Jeffreys two-year-old son Kenji is running around the feet of the diners in the restaurant shouting “Hoo Ha Hoo Ha Ha”. Hes great, definitely the unofficial mascot.

Nash has acquired my tape recorder and is extracting Instant Reactions from a couple of fans—Shirley Leggat, 23, and Elaine Hutcheson, 16, both from Glasgow.

Nash: “So what did you think?”

Shirley: “Wonderful. I loved Pauls kinky dancing.”

Nash: “Big fan of Pauls, eh? ‘Ave you ever seen anything like that at the Glasgow Apollo in your life?”

Shirley: “Huh, its such a dump. Everyone hates it in Glasgow.”

Nash: “There was a great atmosphere.”

Shirley: “That was the people. If you were in the audience youd have been frozen like the rest of us.”

Nash: “Yeah, I was cold. What did you think of the rest of the show, apart from Pauls kinky dancing? What about Mark?”

Elaine: “Oh yeah… Mark gave us a wave. And he smiled.”

Nash (delighted): “A wave and a smile? Thats what I wanted to hear. Did it make your year?”

Elaine: “Definitely.”

Nash: “Whats one word that sums Frankie up?”

Elaine: “Amazing.”

Shirley: “Censored.”

Nash is encouraged by his success as a journalist.

(cont.)
Next, he informs me, he wants to do a proper interview for No. 1. Sade, or Andy Taylor or Dave lee Roth or Paul Weller…

“You couldnt do Andy Taylor,” objects Ped drily. “Youd both be too bevvied.”

Troubled waters

The night goes on and the bar fills up. But smooth as the show has been for the band, and as good as the general feeling in the camp is at the moment, its not just cool, calm waters that Frankie sail in. There are sharks around.

Half the people in the bar are assorted hacks from News Of The Sunday Smuts, fishing for scurrilous stories. Some of them have been knocking on Hollys room during the afternoon; no wonder the poor boy feels he cant venture out.

A particularly obnoxious specimen is saying that the bands minder Wally has been beating up fans. Ridiculous. Hes asked to go and talk to the police outside, with whom Wally has been closely co-operating.

Two male fans are talking to Mark in the corner trying to persuade him to go out with them to a pub. They end up asking him why he gets all the girls, why he gets all the money, getting nastier by the second. He makes his excuses and leaves.

A new dawn

Dawn approaches. The lads trickle back from a club. Nash is last seen heading for his room with a lethal looking cocktail. No doubt hell be reaching for the milk tomorrow. Ped has also vanished.

“So where are the lads now, eh?” asks Mark. The other two have been taking the rise out of him all day about his new-found status as a pin-up, but hes still last to leave the bar.

“Yknow, three weeks ago, none of this was happening,” he muses.

“Now, all five of us are getting loads of screams. Its very weird.”

Will the band be able to cope with all this, I wonder? “Oh aye, well cope,” Mark says. “It will always be the five of us against the world. But whats new about that?”

Goodnight, Frankie.

Instant reaction

Excellent. Just excellent. Much better than the records. Much more exciting, a great feeling amongst the audience. And Mark? Hes stonkin. John Taylors no comparison.Lisa Hanford, 16, Swansea and Cathryn James, 16, Swansea, with Jed OToole, Marks brother.

Instant reaction

Marks lovely, hes got a nice body and great eyes. Hollys cute. Theres no one in Glasgow thats as good looking as Mark, though. Look at Bobby Bluebell.Marjorie Sutherland, 17, Glasgow and Carol Japp, 18, Glasgow.