Kat FrankieWhat a difference a day makes! Over the weekend I saw and heard two different Kat Frankies. As reviewed elsewhere on this site, the semi-somnambulant Frankie who supported Lucie Thorne at Nowra’s tiny, irresistibly cute café, The Tea Club, and the preened, fastidiously finessed Frankie that played the late afternoon session at Bulli’s Heritage Hotel, supported by Sydney son, Damian Robson & band. It’s the latter I prefer. The latter seems incapable of putting a foot, or a finger, wrong. Her songs seem to reveal something new every time and she something new, by way of them. Her songs, of course, are the only vehicle for this, since, to say she’s a woman of few words, when it comes to patter, is an understatement itself. Which, I imagine, purists would say, is as it should be. Indeed, in the latter mode, Frankie is everything she should be. And more. Her guitar work is ‘mwah!’ Her voice can whisper like the Kat she is, or roar like a lion. She is unpredictable and, it seems to me, has taken to actively cultivating an enigmatic persona. Maybe other (‘Ich bin ein’) Berliners have been unduly, overtly, covertly, or inadvertently, influencing her. (I’m being unwittingly sly, since I’ve just discovered she recorded a duet with Nick Cave, The Road To God Knows Where; yet she never name-drops).

The all-aboard journey she takes you on (resistance is useless) twists and turns like life itself, which she records sincerely, authentically, acutely and powerfully (‘It’s so lonely at the top, the only postcard is the drop’). But don’t get too comfortable: just when you think it’s safe to smile at a sweetly affectionate look at love ('I’m not myself, when I’m with you’), she’ll throw in a wry remark (‘or maybe that’s just a line to get the chorus through’); sometimes veering from introspective (‘there was a time I shared myself so nervously’) to self-flagellating (‘our lives will still slip through each year’), or defying all effort to penetrate her world with an inscrutable, if not out-‘n’-out obscure phrase or line. It’s her own road to, well, God knows where. Well, God & Kat. She can set the room alight (‘I’ll give you everything, everything, you never called for’), or chill its occupants to the bone (‘I’ve not seen the morning in years’), slicing the atmosphere with her lyrical scythe. She can be gentle; almost too quiet, flying into a rage. And all that in the space of one song!

She sounds & behaves, overwhelmingly, like herself; which, believe me, can’t be mistaken for anyone else. With one notable exception: her song, The Tops, would seem to be a very conscious and deliberate homage to The Beatles, at their most inventively & hypnotically melodic. Hypnotic is an apt word to apply to Frankie, too: at her best, as at the Heritage last Sunday, there’s nothing and noone better. And she’s rarely anything but at her best.


Heritage Hotel Bulli | 240 Princes Hwy, Bulli
Date: Sunday 20th April
Bookings: (02) 4284 5884

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