London had been waiting four years for the return of Framing Hanley. Tonight fans were ready and eager to see one of Nashville’s best modern exports, but first up were support acts Reaper In Sicily and Hours.
Openers the awesomely named Reaper in Sicily had headlined next door’s The Black Heart a year earlier to a handful of people, but found themselves gratefully facing significantly more people this evening. The lads from somewhere in the depths of Wales did a good job of warming up the crowd and got a really good reception from them. A particular favourite song was King of Solitary with it’s melodic guitar line throughout. Still a relatively new band, I feel that they have a bit of work to do to find their uniqueness in this market, but they have time and as Rhys Bernardo sang his last line “this is the beginning of everything” with a huge smile on his face, I could see that they have the drive and determination, given the reaction they got, to build on what they have. (3/5)
Next up were Norwich’s Hours who for me were musically more succinct than Reaper In Sicily. Seemingly more assured of their melodic direction, however initially the crowd were rather mute in their response to the band and vocalist Ian Bidle had to work hard to bring them around with songs including one of the first they ever wrote called Stories and first single Casino Nights. As Reaper In Sicily were, Hours were genuinely grateful that so many Framing Hanley fans had come down early to check them out and by the time they wrapped up their set with The Band, they had won the crowd over. (3/5)
Framing Hanley kicked the night off with single ‘Criminal’ and played a well chosen set of songs from all three albums and in particular had listened to the requests of their fans and included a song they have not played in London before ‘Slow Dance’ from their debut album. The most popular songs appeared to be those they included from ‘A Promise To Burn’ such as hit single ‘Lollipop’ (which one girl annoyingly kept calling out for, of course they will play it!) and ‘You Stupid Girl’. Singer Kenneth Nixon’s abililty to interact with the crowd is commendable, he knows how to make moments very personal for the fans. Moments that they will be talking about for days, weeks and months to come if not forever; from singing directly at them whilst looking into their eyes, to singing into the cameras that were recording, or to giving a girl a lollipop in the song of the same name, whist Brandon Wootten and Ryan Belcher on guitar did a stirling job and also interacted well with the crowd as a whole. New bassist Jonathan Stoye seemed to come into his element more as the show went on, getting increasingly more energetic as Framing Hanley progressed through their set.
‘Stupid Girl’ ended their main set before they returned for an encore and Nixon spoke of how he had grown up in the sticks of Nashville and had learnt in school about places like London, but never dreamed that he would be here where he is now. To round off the night they played the delicate ‘Castaway’ from new album ‘The Sum Of Who We Are’ which lyrically echoes these sentiments, before crowd and my favourite ‘Here Me Now’.
Theirs was a very welcome return to the UK and I hope that Framing Hanley are able to absorb the reaction they have got tonight and build on that, putting past problems behind them and moving forwards and upwards, as I would love to see them play somewhere like Koko down the road from The Underworld. (4/5)
Review and photos by Heather Fitsell.