Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn (FS&HG) – Komedia Studio – 5th February 2018

Photo by Ben Walker

Bringing forth the perfect hybrid of realism and hard-hitting beats, tonight FS&HG play a hometown, sell-out show which picturesquely captures the sheer level of beautiful creativity that Brighton continuously keeps pumping out to the rest of the world.

Opening tonight are One Eyed Jacks, a group whose name definitely pops up every now and again around the city, but not an act I’ve ever been able to catch live until now. Seriously, where have these guys been all this time?! As soon as they enter stage and showcase their incredible sound, I’m hooked. The blissful combination of delicate acoustic backdrops and powerhouse soul vocals from the seven-piece is inspiring and moving from start to finish, bringing a great deal of power and emotion into this smaller venue. One Eyed Jacks are more than certainly a group to keep on radar and I would seriously urge you to check their live sets wherever you can.

After that sublimely intricate set, we’re quickly thrust into the deep end when FS&HG prepare themselves. Immediately, a shell of high quality beats from Harvey flood the room and the crowd are gearing up for a big show. As soon as Frankie’s lyrics kick in, they shed an immense deal of real sentiment and passion. Realism of this calibre is not something which you come across very often and you can truly visualise every scenario which Frankie paints, relating with nothing but empathy and admiration for how this incredible man has been able to soldier through the toughest parts of his life.

Being a hometown crowd, you’d expect this to be a pretty upbeat show regardless, but my God do these Brighton fans know how to party. The two performers are clearly proud of their roots, frequently mentioning local spots throughout most of their material and the result means that even on the more chilled beats, this crowd are going at it like lunatics. Hands flail and are bodies bounce off of one another in what I can only describe as an hour an a half of pure mayhem. FS&HG are more than happy to encourage this and supply slick commentary throughout to keep the crowd on board, “That’s how you do it Brighton!” Frankie notes persistently. With parents, family members and close friends all in the room also celebrating their sound, you can see how much this means to the two creatives.

Smaller venues such as this typically have a tendency to remove certain aspects of sound with experimental electronic beats, it would be incredibly easy to lose your spark when playing live, however Harvey’s stunning production is barely affected. Tracks such as ‘When I’m Older’ and ‘Me And My Mrs’ utilise a strong bubbled synth sound and provide an electric vibe for Frankie to then bounce off. Likewise, Frankie’s lyricism doesn’t let up and only goes stronger the more you hear it. Almost all of the material stresses darker undertones of some truly troubled and confessional pasts but his delivery and smile in front of the crowd warps them into a far more optimistic feeling of a man who has turned these experiences into something greatly innovative.

The duo’s latest album, A Walk In Water, was really a release which stood out last year and showed a fresh side to their identity; definitely something to delve into if you haven’t already. A fair proportion of the tracks played tonight is from the latest release, with welcomed flutterings of older material such as ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Put It on Me’ making warm appearances. I would say that almost all of the material shown tonight easily excels the recordings and perhaps it is this which really sent the room into such a state of manic movement.

Overall, FS&HG have put on a show tonight which really has proven why they are being regarded in such high esteem in the Brighton music community. They are a duo who only continue to deliver quality material which reflects the minds of two artists who are truly creating something special. I cannot stress enough how proud it makes me to live in such a diverse city full of creatives who excel traditional musical boundaries and FS&HG are at the very forefront of such a movement.

Ben Walker