Gig Review part 6: Francis and The Lights
Francis and The Lights, Heaven, London
What was it Belinda Carlisle once sang? Heaven is a place on earth?
I'm not 100% on that, but I can confirm that Heaven is a music venue underneath Charing Cross Station. It's a classic ‘under the arches’ London gig space complete with bassy sound system and hypnotic lighting - a perfect place for Francis Farewell Starlite to perform his first UK headline show.
The Californian pop polymath has been simmering under the musical surface for well over a decade now: he’s collaborated with Drake, scored music for films, toured with MGMT and La Roux and released two albums. But, it was his summer smash hit Friends (featuring Bon Iver and Kanye) that properly brought him to Europe’s attention.
And bloody heck, am I glad he’s stepped into the limelight! What a performer! He’s part Elvis hips, part Peter Gabriel vocals with a smidgen of David Byrne dramatics thrown in. He Danced like a loon, clambered up stage scaffolding and incited mass sing-alongs throughout. “I just want to make sure this shit is real for me and YOU!” he bellowed mid-set - and we were in no doubt!
There is amazing online footage of Francis' live work with a band, but sadly this gig was just himself on vocals/keyboards with a DJ for backing. His onstage histrionics mostly made up for this, but the airing of two new songs did incite a minor exodus to the bar mid-set. A solo offering of early tune A Modern Promise on Rhodes piano turned it around though - and it was a one way ticket to euphoria as he raised the roof for a final rendition of Friends.
Francis and The Lights album Farewell, Starlight is out now - and he'll be touring Europe later this year. GO!
Where to next?
Who knows? There's talk of a Mexican Wrestling night somewhere in Bethnal Green... If you have a show that I MUST go to, let me know: @stephensonrich.
Until next time, keep it together.
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