FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
Opera House, Frankfurt
HALFWAY across the Federal Republic, and suddenly there came if not a bang, then at the very least a stunning flash of revelation. It may well be something to do with that faint air of detachment that comes from being the solitary Irishman abroad in a stadium full of Frankfurters, so to speak, but for whatever reason, it can no be exclusively revealed that the enormous success of the FGTH phenomenon rests on just three basic ingredients. One is immaculate style, the second is consummate good taste, and the third, the greatest of these, is a subtle smattering of delicious irony with a capital I.
The style, of course, can be detected in just about everything the Frankies and their guiding uncles turn their hands to. Its most striking manifestation, however, is to be found in the wardrobe and person of the very great Paul Rutherford. Here is the man, after all, who does absolutely nothing on stage but dance about and look wonderful and yet he still manages to come across as the most vital ingredient of all in this current attempt to win over the entire underage population of the European continent.
Even during the desperately tedious first half-hour or so, the man still held the eyes of the Frankfurters as off he went, across the stage on that marvellous little rabbit dance, now ripping his Frankie tee-shirt wide open, now just acting the goat, and still it’s good, still it’s fascinating viewing, and most of all it is still style.
The taste factor can again be spotted at nearly every juncture, but it is most readily apparent in the crucial selection of other people’s songs to perform, a sure touch that only backfires on the near-sacreligious version of the corkscrew king’s “Get It On”.
The straight down the line “Born To Run”, however, has never sounded better, and as for “War”, well, let’s just say it is the most perfectly pitched opener to a show since Elvis Costello warmed up his Belfast audience with a blistering “Oliver’s Army”.
And talking of irony, there is surely very little left to be said about the composition of this unique band, half precious angels, and half drunken bums and still working on it. There is only Holly’s air of slight detachment and remarkable sobriety to be worked on, although they do fail slightly below the glaring lack of enough half-decent tunes to fill out this set on the immediate list of priorities.
And that’s it really, just another show in a different city, just one more small step in taking the Frankie gospel across Europe, and just one more laugh when the big screen at the back bows out with the message that property is theft.