I went to a Framing Hanley gig in Birmingham on Thursday last week. Yes, it’s been a week and I’m only writing about it now. So shoot me.
It was a long two hour drive up there during which time I listened to their first album The Moment from start to finish over and over to get me in the mood (no, I didn’t get tired of it!). And it worked a charm! The gig was fantastic! Both bands I saw (I was late so missed the first one, sorry Brooke, I’ll catch you guys when you’re in the UK next time, maybe) were energetic and the crowd ate them up. Framing Hanley in particular.
The other band was called Just Surrender, and they were excellent too. I bought their CD and I’m definitely a newly converted fan. Dynamic, various, a very good listen. Their style is a little rough but all the more attractive to me for that, especially their faster paced numbers which had me bouncing around in the seat of my car – not a good plan at 90mph on the motorway!
Framing Hanley were brilliant live! Totally worth the long drive. Between numorous junk touches, and his new habit of lifting his shirt, Kenneth Nixon entertained us from behind a thick fringe of hair with a charismatic style, and seemed to occupy every corner of the stage at once. The whole band was on point the whole way through except for one bad note by Luke who got the mickey taken out of him afterwards to the enjoyment of the crowd. (I love Luke, he seems so crazy in love with the music). Chris on the drums was like a dynamo. That guy don’t quit!
The first single to be released in the UK is called Back to Go Again off their second album, and it’s much lighter, more polished than anything on their previous album. The new album, Promise to Burn, is much more polished in general. A smoother sound, a little less aggressive but no less passionate. Not what I expected at all.
I listened to the new album all the way back home again – having bought it at the gig – and I love it! It’s NOT the Framing Hanley that we know and love. It’s a different, grown up, Framing Hanley. Their tone has mellowed, their message has become more varied as if they have more to sing about now. They’re a lot more sing along than the previous album, too, and much lighter and more mainstream – perhaps to appeal to a wider audience.
Whether this move is strategic or part of their natural development is a moot point because, whatever the reason, the sound is good. But it left me totally confused! Somehow, simultaneously, I find myself missing the old stuff, and wanting more of the new.
Verdict? Buy both albums, it’s like two different bands, anyway. And if you have a chance to see Framing Hanely live, do it!