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Frankie in America

They wore rude t-shirts, stayed in posh hotels, appeared on TV shows and even played live. Our spies in New York: David Keeps and David Sprague.

Expectations were high before Frankies arrival in America. New York Streets were plastered with their advertising slogans and a brisk trade in “RELAX” t-shirts was well under way. One store in trendy Greenwich Village sold shirts with the witty slogan “FRANKIE COMES FROM HOBOKEN” — for Frank Sinatra was indeed born in Hoboken, New Jersey.

On the eve of the Presidential elections, Frankie played in the American capital, Washington D.C., but failed to stir things up with their own t-shirts which read “FRANKIE SAY SHIT THE POLITICIAN”.

Arriving in New York they moved into the posh Berkshire Place Hotel, which Duran Duran made their headquarters during their New York dates earlier in the year. The foyer of the hotel, on a typical night of Frankies stay, was jammed with rather well-heeled folk enjoying a drink or getting ready for the theatre. Mob scenes? Sorry, barely a murmur.

They appeared on the very popular TV show, Saturday Night Live and the general opinion was that they “sucked” (i.e. were less than impressive) but, say those in the know, everyone looks and sounds awful on that show. They also did a photo session for the magazine, Esquire, where our spies report that Nasher and Ped were full of their amorous exploits, Holly confessed a weakness for designer Giorgio Armanis fashions and all things Italian, and Paul Rutherford arrived listening to Princes LP, “Controversy” on his Walkman. Stripping off to get changed into smart suits for the photo, Ped revealed a pair of blue nylon swimming trunks, Mark a pair of Nike running shorts and Holly confessed he had on his worst pair of white cotton boxer shorts.

The Frankie shows proved far less revealing, although the tickets were sold out and the crowds who crammed into their New York shows buzzed with excitement.

Unfortunately, for a group with an unparalleled reputation for naughtiness, Frankie on stage are extremely tame. Theres little of the punch of their records. Apart from the rousing opener of “War” and the encore of “Relax” they never even sweat. Paul Rutherford admittedly gets a bit moist while dancing in his tight t-shirt and jeans but Holly looks more like an old-fashioned schoolteacher than anything else. Decked out in a long coat and high collared shirt, he could have just stepped from the pages of Oliver Twist. His onstage chat is just as prim and proper too with lots of corny “I love New York” lines.

Sometimes he seems to be part of a cabaret act rather than a pop show.

Having learned the trick of really stretching out their hits (and even repeating “Relax”), they flesh out songs like “The Power Of Love” and “The Pleasuredome” with special effects — smoke bombs and flashes that wouldnt disgrace a heavy metal band. Without such effects, the group falters.

The whole extravaganza lasts barely an hour and the crowd devours every morsel. But not hungrily enough for Holly. “Youre going to have to do better than that,” he teases the encore shouters.

So, Holly, are you.