From December 2008 to December 2009, Frank set up residence at the LMRCA club in Altrincham. Every second Sunday of the month he’d perform to audiences of varying amounts. It didn’t matter to Frank, though, who used these informal concerts as a way of doing something different to the ‘regular’ Frank gig. Which is not to say he didn’t play some fan favourites, they were sung here and there, but mostly this was a journey into Frank’s stream of consciousness. He’d often go off on tangents to hilarious effect. Each show would have a theme, ranging from Daleks to Subbuteo, with Gerry Anderson, The Beatles, Batbottom and Bobbins, and Mr Fantastico all making appearances throughout the run. Some moments would occasionally fall flat—which in itself, would end up being hilarious - but there were some absolute gems that he didn’t repeat at other shows. I’d occasionally turn up early to find Chris still setting up. Invariably—depending on how he felt on the night—Chris would sit and chat until somebody else came. These intimate conversations would be about what he’d been up to mainly, and rarely was Frank mentioned. Apart from one night when he’d not managed to take a photo of Little Frank’s body for the night. He’d made him a punk tattooed body, which looked really fantastic. He asked me to take some photos and send them on to him. In the tiny backstage area of the LMRCA, he pointed to a black bag “He’s in there…” meaning Big Frank.
The format, as it was, included a quiz, often made up on the spot, and a raffle. It became a running joke after I’d won a couple of times that it might be a ‘fix’. However much I’d like it to have been, it wasn’t! But getting up to a room of groans and Frank exasperating “Oh, it’s you again!” made for a mix of anxiety and pride of being part of a Frank moment. He even made me dress up as a Dalek, using his washing basket head and towel with CDs attached as the body. “He’ll do anything,” he chuckled, “It’s not even a good prize.”
It’s a shame that one show was cancelled at the last minute due to illness: the November get-together would have been a Halloween special with fireworks, how fantastic would that have been? I filmed every show, with some of the footage appearing in the Being Frank film. It’s from this collection of recordings that I compiled the ‘Magic Moments at the LMRCA’ section of the Frank celebration being streamed on June 20th. Chris was fine with me recording the shows, and often used them as promotional tools on his MySpace. Occasionally, he’d play up to the camera or pick on me to ‘sing-a-long’ during “Hey Jude”—probably realising how uncomfortable this made me!
The crowning glory of the LMRCA shows came during the final show—what would turn out to be the last ever Frank Xmas show—when during a raucous rendition of Something Else backed by the Oh-Blimey Big Band, he changed the lyrics to include members of his entourage.
“Well look at that… Over there… There is Martin again… Filming me to put on YouTube… That’s dead good… Where he puts it… Takes loads of photos and sends them to me… Thank you Martin, you’ve been brilliant…That hair’s bobbins… It’s something else!” The rest, as they say, is history.
Martin with the Bobbins Hair.