ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Hometown boys

Royal Court, Liverpool

FRANKIE say… homecoming.

In Liverpool an old lady sits on the bus to Pier Head carrying a shopping bag with “Relax” written on the side. Is she aware of the cultural phenomenon that represents? In Liverpool tonight, its hard not to be. Everyone, it seems, wants to be here. Its an important occasion.

Statistics, success, first live British appearance since…

Finally its time for the proof. And if this is to be the denouement of the Frankie legend, were in the right place. In Liverpool, they already know Frankie exists, not just as a commodity or a concept but as part of a community. They know too, Frankie can play: its been seen even if it was a prehistory. Since then, Frankies style has been squeezed into image. That was then and this is… a turning point.

By the time you read this, Frankie will be last years thing. Will they be this years thing as well? The answer takes place in the space of an hour. It opens and closes with a disembodied voice: “Welcome” and “Frankie say no more”. In the interim, seven men who arent Frankie produce or accompany music that varies from the mundane to the mighty.

“War”, for starters, is as hard as you could ask for, but with “Relax” and “The Power Of Love” following soon after, you wonder whether theyre wise to use all their cards so quickly. “Relax”, with phallic fireworks at appropriate moments, is wonderful but “The Power Of Love” Hollys star turn, proves (without pictures) to be not much of a song. Little further on and Im no more interested that I would be at the local gay disco and no more moved than watching the videos.

In a club, Frankie could be marvellous but in a theatre — and its not a large one either — theyre not even really spectacular, which is the least we could have expected. After all, this should have been the ultimate show, a feast of salacious narcissism, the greatest story ever told.

Frankie should be epic all the time but this time their finest moments — like all their other achievements — are not of their own making. “War”, “Born To Run” and “Ferry Cross The Mersey” have the power to move thats unmatched by the rest of the set, though “Two Tribes” does whip up some extra excitement. The accompanying images are still from the video and you can see, frozen, how little the protagonists resemble what they represent — just like the band, in fact.

I dont think anybody else minded that much; at least they were there. It was, after all, an important occasion.