FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
Cheeky Stage Show Proves The Band Is More Than A Studio Creation
Irvine Auditorium, Philadelphia
When Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s lead vocalist, Holly Johnson, paused between songs during FGTH’s recent concert in Philadelphia for some crowd-baiting, his impish comment, “It’s so quiet here in Philadelphia —
If the clamoring, standing-room only audience was any indication, then the answer is an emphatic yes. The raucous crowd of about 2,000-chanting “Frank-ie! Frank-ie!” during the opening transvestite/comedy act —
The concert literally opened with a bang. Amidst a fury of smoke, flashing lights and sounds of machine guns firing and bombs exploding, FGTH took the stage and performed a thunderous rendition of Edwin Starr’s “War.” The melodic “Wish You Were Here” was next, followed by the controversial “Relax,” the lush ballad “Power of Love,” and the densely rhythmic, 15-minute “Welcome To The Pleasure Dome.” Two more songs from their debut album followed —
Throughout, Johnson and back-up vocalist/lead dancer Paul Rutherford were the focal points. The pint-sized Johnson, wearing a Navy officer’s uniform, commandeered each song with his wailing vocals and dry humor. Rutherford, perhaps the most popular Frankie member, pranced around the stage dancing suggestively with a microphone and working up a good sweat; he eventually took off his shirt and donned a Reagan look-alike mask for “Two Tribes.”
In keeping with their controversial image, slides were used as an added visual touch. Some were obscene (“Relax”) while others were political (“Two Tribes”), but mostly they were satiric, showing the now-famous “Frankie Say” slogans.
For the show’s concluding “Relax” number, the transvestites from the opening act joined FGTH onstage. The explicitly sexual dancing and the semi-hardcore lyrics were outrageous and the crowd loved it. Yes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood were all they were supposed to be and then some. But the question remains: What will Frankie Say next?
Tracy Steven Peal