LIVE: Francis Lung @ Gullivers
Being the first glitter party hosted in ex Wu Lyf bassist Tom McClung’s hometown of Manchester, this evening had to be as big a hit as it was in London. McLung and co have been releasing music under the moniker Francis Lung since 2015 with their last song released 3 years ago now. Gold streamers were pinned to all four walls of Gullivers’ ballroom creating a very faux decadent seedy atmosphere from the outset. The addition of free records, glitter and sweets went down a treat with the crowd too making the event feel like an adult school disco.
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Secret Admirer walk onto the stage looking like a group of post-grad pub goers fit with beards and glasses they certainly dress the part for their Americana tinged jangly indie pop. After a couple of lackluster standard guitar pop songs, the band plays ‘Perfect Specimen’ which is exactly that of a song, with moving melodies and a captivating structure, the band seems to be hitting their stride at this point in the show. Sun-drenched Kurt Vile esque love song ‘Reassure Me’ sees the bassist taking the role of vocalist with a smooth, rich voice this song feels like a Californian day dream and features a very Velvet Underground inspired guitar and organ solo which takes their set even higher.
After finishing the song the singer makes a great musicians parable “teach a man to fish he’ll eat and he’ll eat for a lifetime, teach a man to jam in C and we’ll be here 15 minutes later” filling a room with hearty laughter. A highlight of Secret Admirer’s set for me was ‘The Dream Isn’t Over’ which really made use of the Club Silencio feeling stage, fit with Stop Making Sense trademark standing lamps. Stunningly somber, the song began with guitar and electric piano, before the addition of drums and second guitar to build up to something that sounded like a lovelorn deep cut from Beggars Banquet.
Francis Lung mount the stage with singer and guitarist McClung looking the most Thom Yorke he ever has, with his signature cream Fender Mustang and tied up long hair, soon to be extravagantly let down in an immeasurably rock and roll fashion. The band played largely new material at the glitter party, which marks a notable shift from the glossy, funkier pop songs of their EP’s, to a more psychedelia inflected Rundgren style of songwriting.
‘Too Right’ with its woozy guitars and flawless vocal harmonies sounds like it was made for the silver screen and would fit perfectly on the soundtrack to an American indie film playing at Sundance festival. A rendition of ‘Give It Back’ from the band’s first EP is a foot-stomping classic sounding a lot fuller and more powerful than the recorded version. After a couple of new songs, McClung announces they have just finished recording an album which will be out later this year with a single coming out on February 1st which gains a thunderous response. Among the new songs ‘Necessary Love’, seemingly a nod to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, fit with mellotron strings and an interesting chord progression is a clear indication that the band has polished and redefined their sound.
Commanded by McClung, upon the notion that it was high time for some audience participation, the audience begins clicking, shadowed by a reverb-soaked guitar which emits sonic secretions of what is to be fan favourite ‘Selfish Man’. A note for note display which transports the crowd back to the indie heyday of 2014, with palm muted riffs à la Foals and Klaxons. ‘Dance 4 Sorrow’ is another flawless rendition which everyone in the seedy, red-lit ballroom moving and, in turn, cheering on a rambunctious drum solo.
No glitter party would be complete without a best-dressed competition, which is incited by McClung, urging those who believe they’re the best dressed to the front to be showcased by the crowd. Amongst the glitter-clad girls is a stereotypical polo wearing dad who, when asked his name, replied ‘old man’, to booming applause and laughter. An unexpected turn proceeded this party contest as the band moves through a 70’s soft rock cover of Roy Orbison’s classic ‘You Got It’, where both keyboard players in the band really shine alongside gorgeous vocal harmonies. Francis Lung played a brilliantly tight set, showcasing their new material which will be out this year, the glitter party theme along with all its trappings made for a night different to that of a normal gig and resulted in high spirits from everyone.