Our music and live event reporter Hannah Fuller went along to see solo male artist ‘To be frank’ perform his debut headline show at London’s Basement.
Electronic/acoustic performer To Be Frank has previously been on stage at Reading, Leeds, Wilderness and Latitude festivals.
To Be Frank – I’ve never heard of this artist before. So when asked to pop along to watch perform, this rising singer / songwriter / musician who hails from Suffolk and has already captured the praising attention from the likes of Zane Lowe and Lauren Laverne; I wanted to come and see for myself, why ‘’To Be Frank is being tipped as the one to watch in 2014.
It’s a cold Monday evening when I arrive at Basement at the London Edition. With it’s simple, wooden surrounding, it’s an intimate venue with dimly set lights. A very fitting setting for an artist who is fast becoming known for his stripped back, tender and organic music.
Looking round, I realise the rustic decor reminds me abit of Orange Rooms – this trendy bar I used to go to all the time in Southampton. Not a room that is Orange.
Folk casually trickle in as I arrive. The crowd look relaxed and within their comfort zone. Ages ranging from 20, 30’s and 40’s although I did spot a couple of 60-something year old, bohemian looking chaps amongst the crowd of what I would describe as ‘indie media hipsters.’
Funky soul music is being played to the ever growing crowd, before onto some retro groove sounding, ‘zippy’ guitar playing instrumental, which sounded abit like something from a 70’s porn film. ( From what I’ve heard of course. )
I sip on my Peroni and casually await the arrival of To Be Frank aka Frank Pescod. Then suddenly, a soothing, mellow, baritenor voice; similar sounding in some ways to Chris Martin; gently begins to sing along to slow, sombre piano chords and the chatter and hustling in the room silences. Completely.
As a guitar joins in with the slow paced, soft piano piece, I notice just how mesmerising Frank’s voice is. It’s clear, soothing, with a sweet touch of soft huskiness which oozes passion and purity – making it so unique and sincere sounding. After an encouraging applause from the audience, ( To Be ) Frank swigs from his bottle of water and gives the crowd an awkward smile. “Hello. This is nice isn’t it? We’re under a posh Hotel.”
Now with the pleasantries out the way, To be Frank covers his mouth to cough, looks down and gets ready to continue with his performance.
“I ain’t got nothing if I ain’t got you” – this catchy upbeat ambient dance piece has industrial instrumental sounds and hits thought provoking nerves, similar to artists such as Massive Attack.
Up next ‘If you love her.’ One of To Be Franks most popular songs; this is beautiful, heartfelt, dusky piece, which sounds just as incredible live and so up close, I feel as though I’m almost imposing on a private grieving moment.
The room full of stilled bodies – some arms folded, some with hands in pockets, some a mix of one of the two with a drink in the other hand. Whatever they are doing, they all share one thing. They are captivated with their eyes firmly fixed to the stage.
We then move onto a slightly, slow tempo’d dub number – To Be Frank so far have managed to convey a number of sounds and styles. Playing his own instruments the whole way through, something he self taught from a young age, he is credible and clearly talented.
The small sea of stiff bodies bodies are now beginning to loosen. A few sways here and a few nodding heads there. This appears to be one very serious crowd. Although I’ve not seen any chin strokers as yet.
“Because I’m going inside of you…waiting for the sun” A lucid, repetitive drone, with its hypnotic beats and yearnful singing, this is a catchy electronic number. African chanting gradually builds over the music to create an atmospherically pleasing effect which is equally as pleasing to my ears.
To be Frank then performs, ‘Half the Man,’ – a basic melody over a funky, clasping beat, To Be Frank once again delivers a number that will be sure to stick in your minds, with this cool, moderately tempo’d yet charming dance track.
The accompanying sounds are crisp, sharp and refreshing – an ambient dancehall dream. The energy on the stage looks as though it’s starting to pick up and Frank now obviously keen to keep this energy reflected, begins clapping his hands in time to the music, which appeared to work briefly as 2 women in the crowd begin swirling and vigorously clapping along too, before realising noone else is. So stop.
“Oooh oooh forget about everyone.” – I agree Frank! Forget about em!
“Thanks for coming guys, this is our last track – ‘Give it up’ Bringing the tempo down for this sweet, melodic keyboard piece, this is a warm, sincere, love-song and as I look into To be Franks face, which I am standing only a couple of meters away from, this is the face of a man who whilst singing, through his facial expressions, shows us displays of mixed feelings and raw emotions. He looks as though he means every word he says and I believe everyword he sings. He conveys this audibly as well as visibly.
As the gig draws to a close, To be Franks parting and last words, echo over the 40 odd people remaining in the room, as he sings his final words and the gig comes to a close:-“Baby I want more.” And To Be Frank….so do I.
To Be Frank’s latest release ‘Half The Man’ is out now and available from iTunes and deluxe vinyl from Rough Trade and the artists website.
Twitter link: https://twitter.com/tobefrankmusicHannah Resident writer