Stepping out onto the Brudenell stage Martin Frawley surveys the scene before him. What had already been a fairly thin crowd seems to have suddenly gotten a whole lot thinner. “Nobody knows who the fuck I am”, he exclaims albeit as a casual aside and directed at nobody in particular.
Seven songs later you suspect that that there are one or two people in the room who now know exactly who Martin Frawley is.
The singer and guitarist from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia is over here in the United Kingdom as principal support act to White Fence, the band fronted by former member of The Fall, Tim Presley. Frawley returns to this country again next month to open for Stephen Malkmus before jetting off to the States via Central Europe later in the year to perform on a number of shows on Superchunk’s Acoustic Foolish tour.
Martin Frawley is moving in pretty exalted company and he is joined here on piano by Stewart Bronaugh, a man who has served time with Angel Olsen’s band and the Nashville duo Lionlimb. From what we can see and hear here tonight and speaking to both men after the show they are clearly having a blast.
It may only be their second live performance together (the first was the night before in Glasgow) but they have had the benefit of joining forces on Frawley’s debut solo album, Undone at 31, which was released earlier this year.
And it is to this record that Martin Frawley heads straight away tonight, opening up with Undone at 31’s lead single, ‘You Want Me?’ ‘Chain Reaction’, also from this album, swiftly follows. He then detours briefly from Undone at 31 with a song about New Zealand and another, a moving reminiscence about his late father, both of which possess equally strong melodic and harmonic structures.
“Play some Twerps’ songs”, a lone Yorkshire voice pipes up, making specific reference to the delightful lo-fi jangle popsters Martin Frawley jointly helmed with Julia McFarlane but which dissolved after almost a decade when the couple’s romantic and creative union ended. “YOU play some Twerps’ songs”, Frawley good-naturedly replies. It is quite clear that he isn’t going to go down that particular road this or possibly any other night for that matter.
Undone at 31 chronicles the break-up of Frawley’s relationship with McFarlane. An open and often tear-stained love letter to his former partner, in a live setting the songs that Frawley plays from the record are transformed into something much nearer ebullience. By the time that he reaches the concluding ‘End of the Bar’ with Bronaugh hammering out some incredibly powerhouse piano chords both mens’ faces are wreathed in huge smiles. You do get the firm impression that Frawley is now in much better emotional shape than he was, say, a year ago.
Stood at the bar afterwards, embracing the local culture with a pint of Tetley’s smooth in his hand, Martin Frawley confirms this positivity. He was not unduly concerned about any possible audience ambivalence, saying that he “was just happy to be out there, doing it”. He went on to state that “if I only manage to connect with one person then I will be happy”. A warm and engaging individual, I assured him that he had achieved that objective with me alone, but I imagine that there were quite a few others who left the Brudenell feeling similarly connected to the man and his music.
Photos: Simon Godley
A few more photos from this show can be found HERE