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Title: Hometown boys
Author: Penny Kiley
Source: Melody Maker
Publish date: January 5, 1985

HOMETOWN BOYS

FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
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, it’s hard not to be. Everyone, it seems, wants to be here. It’s an important occasion.

Statistics, success, first live British appearance since…

Finally it’s time for the proof. And if this is to be the denouement of the Frankie legend, we’re 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: it’s 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 year’s thing. Will they be this year’s 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 aren’t 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 they’re wise to use all their cards so quickly. “Relax”, with phallic fireworks at appropriate moments, is wonderful but “The Power Of Love” Holly’s star turn, proves (without pictures) to be not much of a song. Little further on and I’m 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 it’s not a large one either – they’re 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 that’s 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 don’t think anybody else minded that much; at least they were there. It was, after all, an important occasion.

PENNY KILEY