Franc Moody, live at Heaven

[Author’s note: So we are trying to implement a policy of writing reviews of gigs we attend – the key word here being “trying”. This is particularly hard for me for two main reasons: first, the majority of the gigs I recommend are, according to my fellow snobs, a “6 out of 10” (it goes without saying that I obviously disagree with this classification); and secondly, as the hedonist of the group, taking notes during a concert is quite literally a herculean task (and quite unnatural for me, I might add). Nevertheless, witnessing the boogie that took control of two snobs, a subordinate and myself (and everyone else!) at Franc Moody’s show in London’s Heaven, I felt assured that this was a gig undoubtedly better than the “6 out of 10” typically awarded by my fellow snobs, and definitely worth sharing with you, dear reader. With that in mind, I proceeded to, for the first time in my life, take some notes for a potential review during the actual show – the result was, I must confess… quite poor. You know when you write a word incorrectly on your keyboard and those weird red lines appear underneath? Well, upon waking up the next morning, I realised all my notes were exactly that – a maze of random ideas legible only to an eight year-old.]

It’s another typical Wednesday night in April and, while most Londoners are probably tucked away in the warmth of their houses and beds, I have sorted four tickets to attend Franc Moody’s gig at Heaven. Despite being quite recent, Franc Moody’s catalogue is already filled with enough bangers to make it worth seeing them live, and I expected our collective dance moves would be enough to keep us warm. Coordinating gigs with Cuzomano, Easy C and El Mascarado is always a herculean task, and this act was no exception – Cuzomano bailed at the last minute (to be replaced by a subordinate), Easy C left me doing the pre-drinking on my own [Editor’s note: John can’t complain], and El Mascarado met us literally 5 minutes before Franc Moody came on stage. Nevertheless, our overall vibe and enthusiasm is enough not to let these small complications impact what can only be a great live show – despite not knowing what to expect, we knew that, at the very least, a decent share of crazy guitar riffs, wicked synths and phenomenal vocals were assured.

We arrived at Heaven just as Franc Moody began their act – yes, despite our professed love for music, I must admit we quite rarely make it to the opening act. The first positive surprise came almost instantly – upon looking at the stage, I reached the conclusion that Franc Moody does not actually exist. Mind blown. Led by Ned Franc and Jon Moody, a 6-piece band is on-stage with a wide range of instruments from traditional guitars and drums to more unconventional synths and oboes, and they are jamming to a disco-electronic-funk vibe in a sort of DIY-setting. This mash-up of various styles and genres, beautifully wrapped in a hypnotic groove, is a reflection of the London-based duo’s different musical influences – while Ned grew up listening to old soul and New Orleans music, Jon was born into classical musical, strongly influenced by his family. The two eventually met as part of a group of bands and artists that took over abandoned warehouses in North London to throw events that have been described as the kind of parties “where there’s no bouncer, one portaloo, and hundreds of party-goers crammed in like sardines as sweat dripped from the ceiling” – that was where they learned to love performing music that made people dance, a perspective that is present in nearly every track within their brief but ever-growing musical catalogue.

Inside – and while my fellow companions were at the bar taking care of our hedonistic necessities – I had to take care of another liquid necessity. Poor timing. As soon as I enter the bathroom to answer the call of nature, Franc Moody begins playing Pheromones, a big crowd pleaser and one of my personal favourites, forcing me to rush back to the arena and postpone one of the most human basic needs. Indefinitely, I might add, as Franc Moody never let the rhythm slow down, delivering hit after hit and making it impossible to escape the groove that had taken over one of London’s most famous gay clubs. The only change of pace came during the middle of the show, when Jon Moody’s oboe and Ned’s keyboards shine in a slow and slightly psychedelic act – other than that, the show is a constant rush of adrenaline, pheromones and dopamine, with highlights including a fantastic interpretation of Hypnotised and the slightly darker Super Star Struck, two songs where the crowd rallied behind the band. Franc Moody followed Night Flight with an extraordinary rendition of Dopamine, another big crowd pleaser – after watching it live, I must confess that the bassline starter of Dopamine could be on the run for intro of the decade [although that could be the hedonism talking]. At one point, Easy C and myself realise that we have lost our two companions and are alone in the middle of the dance floor, boogie-ing extremely hard and probably embarrassing ourselves, but we genuinely do not care – the combination of disco, funk and soul is too much for us to stop.

As the concert moves on, it becomes clear that Franc Moody will eventually explode and become an even more interesting show in the future, or at least I hope so. When your debut EP is called Dance Moves, you better live up to expectations, and Franc Moody does that perfectly – their musical catalogue works impeccably in a live setting, as the slow and bass-heavy build-up of most songs explodes into funky rhythms that make it impossible for every single bone in your body not to move. On stage, Franc Moody resemble an incredible mix between Hot Chip and Jungle, while also clearly inspired by Daft Punk and Jamiroquai, and we love it. The venue and overall “school-night” environment undoubtedly helped, but it was interesting to see that, at some points, the show almost looks like a jam session amongst friends, but always maintaining impressive production and timing for a 6-piece band doing a live show in an underground club.

As I was reflecting on this and on several other random thoughts (the likes of which were heavily, and poorly, written on my phone as I realised the following morning), Dance Moves was announced as the last song of the show, much to the crowd’s displeasure – the rhythm and funk were still within us, and we still had more to dance. Nevertheless, as the song ended and the concert finished, very much to my surprise (again, this concert positively surprised me in a lot of ways!) Franc Moody did not engage in the traditional drag along of the encore. Instead, we were rewarded with probably the shortest time between vacating the stage and the beginning of the encore that I have ever seen. This was very much appreciated, as at this point my bladder was literally exploding and, perhaps more importantly, our drinks were over and bars were no longer indulging our needs. In any case, don’t take this comment the wrong way – it is by no means a criticism of the end of the concert: Franc Moody are a fantastic live experience from beginning to end, both in content and in form, delivering a powerful and funky performance that would make several bands with decades of touring under their belt jealous. So this year do yourself a favour, work on your dance moves and attend their nearest gig – you will not regret it.