The Frank Pop Ensemble @ The London Rocket 26/11/05

Queuing up outside it’s ice cold. Behind us stands a Noel Gallagher head on the top of Jude Law’s outfit and in front there are a gorgeous pair of sparkling gold knee-highs. The queue quickly disintegrates, and when passing through security the doors swing through and transport through time and back to the 60’s.

Frank Popp is a 60’s/70’s obsessive who formed an eight piece ensemble. Otherwise known as ‘The Frank Popp Ensemble’, they fuse the sounds of trippy jazz, Northern soul and Hammond Organs together into something quite different from any of their contemporaries.

Taking the stage at around 11:30 dressed in snakeskin boots, black shirts, black jeans, little black dresses, with hemispherical hair they are fashionably late. The disco ball spins into motion. The party is called to the stage. Video cameras, photographers and young chicks and dudes gatecrash the front while the more mature members of the party (the suits) reluctantly step forward a little. Adamantly they admire from the behind so as to ensure that they do not appear to be having a good time and it’s halfway through already.

The FPE’s inability to get the retro office party moving is only worsened by the shortage of Sam Leigh Brown’s voice. The band are jiving, or at least they’re trying. Down a level the stereotypical gorgeous, but drunk couple are having a brilliant time. So is tonight’s Ricky Gervais for that matter. It would appear however that they were dancing very much to their own music. The appropriate night’s highlight was ‘Business and Pleasure’ which, saw a finger gun aimed across the audience through a lavish pair of faux eyelashes.

FPE excelled in fantastic drum solos, had some great guitar riffs and looked totally retro in both what they wore and how they swang. However, the aforementioned ‘lack’ of vocals worsened as the night progressed. Where the music surpassed their forerunners, Sam’s husky vocals failed.

Victoria McNaught-Davis

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