Linear last gig

27th December
Firebug

It’s the end of a night of really good music and the last band has just finished; the ample crowd is still cheering, whistling and screaming and chanting “more, more.” A young man in a white shirt picks up his jacket from the stage and jumps down into the audience where he is mobbed by delighted fans. On stage guitarists and the drummer are packing away their gear.

So who is the white-shirted young man who has made such a hit with the crowd? Let me take you back to 2010. The Shed. 9th January. A line-up of some of the best Leicester bands back in the day. On stage a band called White Ashes, led by singer Joe Walker and on the bass the young man in the white shirt, looking considerably younger of course.

Jack Franklin (far left) with White Ashes in 2010

Jump forward to April 2012 and this time we are at the Musician for one of the rounds of the original bands showcase. On stage a new Leicester band called Linear and with them their lead vocalist Jack Franklin.

Jack Franklin 2012

The line-up of bands that night was formidable and included some that went on to become the top groups of the Leicester circuit. But then so did Linear. Even back in those days this was a band that enjoyed an enthusiastic following. Here is what I said: ‘As soon as they were introduced, the fans started to scream and cheer. It meant that the band got off to a rousing start, even though they had to bide their time through six previous acts before they could get on stage and do their stuff.’

Jack Franklin at the Musician in 2012

My commentary continued: ‘Front man Jack Franklin has a particularly fine voice. Tonight he showed us what he can do with it, putting in an astonishing performance. Whilst many of tonight’s artists got up and sang, Jack demonstrated the next step above that: performance and with a passion and intensity that is rare among young bands, if not most bands that inhabit the Leicester music scene. ‘

I was clearly impressed by what I heard that night.

‘Likened by some to The Smiths and by others to Nirvana, Linear has not chosen its genre. What is clear from their original songs is that they know where they want to be musically even though the five band members all have widely different tastes. What makes them stand out is their knack of writing original songs that sound iconic. That is different from just cloning your sound from recognisable bands. The band were fully engaged in the music; while Jack was giving up his astonishing performance at the front, the others were watching each, working together, feeding off each other, checking their timing with each other, being cool and collective. Calm is not what they are about but they do have a rawness which is exhilarating; they have a rough edge that beats off some of the smoother, slicker bands that went on before them. With their highly excited fan base cheering them on and moshing at the front, there was a magic about what they did tonight. That is what made them stand out; they can raise the hairs on the back of your neck, they can make your spine tingle. That is what makes them special.’

It was a remarkable performance; not the first time I had seen Franklin as a singer and front man but undoubtedly one of the finest performances I had seen from him.

Jack Franklin at the Scholar Bar in 2012

At the O2 Academy’s Scholar bar, 8th September 2012, Linear had played on a line-up with Raptusound, Vengeance and several other bands.

Our reporter Kevin Gaughan wrote:

‘Next up were local band, Linear, another young band, tentatively exploring the venues of Leicester as they are starting to do more gigs. Mixing their unique, but oh-so-addictive blend of operatic vocals with distorted guitar breaks aplenty. Some people in the crowd said they were like a rocked up Morrissey. After their set, there was a buzz in the air, Linear were the band everyone was talking about – people I spoke to told me how amazing Linear were and what an impression they had made. Without doubt, Linear had made new fans tonight. ‘

Linear at the Scholar Bar in 2012

Linear is a band that I have seen many times before; on Tuesday 10th April 2012 at Sumo, I saw them said:
Linear was sensational. Amazing vocals from Jack Franklin tightly backed by the other four musicians in a series of dramatic songs that were tingling. A posse of fans gathered in front of the stage to support them, listening to a set of tracks that were dynamic and that glittered with clever orchestration. For their second song they played a cover but even this was good. Real passion and on-stage movement added up to irresistible music. This band will go a long way. The young Leicester five piece Linear featured the vocals of Jack Franklin, who is (or was) the bassist with local band White Ashes. They kicked off their set with a vibrant song, the first of three original compositions, in which Jack demonstrated his impressive singing abilities. Tonight was Linear’s second ever gig; bear in mind that several of the band member have already played extensively in other bands, so they are not short of a few flying hours of live experience, some of them having played since they were 14. Their three original songs were remarkable in that they have carved out a style of music which was distinctively their own, arguably new wave, assuredly shoegaze and definitely alt rock. In a slow and heavily atmospheric ballad, Jack’s impressive vocals were demonstrated, giving the songs lots of expressive impact and in which the guitarists were able to shine. It made them stand out. Because they are a new band they capped their three original songs with three covers, one of which was Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Good, a favourite of newbie bands and they delivered an acceptable rendition of this rock classic. Playing their covers with verve and energy, they showed themselves to be accomplished musicians. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2012]

Linear at the Shed in 2012

Various writers have made their own take on Linear; back in 2012, the band played at the Oxjam festival. JW said ‘ Imagine the Vines with Morrissey on vocals and you’ve about got them nailed; their affection for both sludgy rock and emotive balladeering created something pretty unique.  ‘

Let’s jump forward to February 2015; we featured Linear in this magazine [Music in Leicester 2015]

Linear played at The Soundhouse [Music in Leicester 2015]

that page shows Kevin Gaughan’s photos from the show.

Linear is no stranger to the Firebug stage; we saw them there on 25th April 2015:

Tonight’s show was opened by Leicester band Linear. The band’s first song set the mood for the night with its driving bass lines, pounding riffs and lead singer Jack Franklin’s voice punching a hole in the air of the room. On stage tonight was Joe Doyle (Homeless Shakespeare, Weekend Schemers, etc.) standing in for their regular bassist. Linear’s songs tend to be darkly coloured, often sombre, always full of drama, passion and intensity. Linear is a band with a set of songs all of which are equally listenable; they ended their set with an up-beat number I seem to have been in front of this band several times recently. I saw them at the OBS at the Musician on 4th April and on 13th March; I wrote: With the vocals of Jack Franklin giving the bands its characteristic sound, Linear delivered a set of songs that was outstanding. Lauded for sounding like Morrissey, Franklin is a force of nature; he delivers his vocals with lashings of feeling and panache. Many flavours of rock were being sampled tonight but Linear gave us something that was in a class of its own; their set had moments of drama, supremely commanding flashes of atmosphere and waves of sonorous ballad-ising. Linear reminds me why rock music is so entrancing, so uplifting; they have the ability to weave glorious melodies with exuberant rhythms to provide music that is as exciting as it is satisfying. Linear has a magic that puts them above the rest; they are a phenomenon. Sensational.

At Sumo on 7th February, when writing about that gig I quoted from Arts in Leicester magazine:
Linear was sensational. Amazing vocals from Jack Franklin tightly backed by the other four musicians in a series of dramatic songs that were tingling. A posse of fans gathered in front of the stage to support them, listening to a set of tracks that were dynamic and that glittered with clever orchestration. For their second song they played a cover but even this was good. Real passion and on-stage movement added up to irresistible music. This band will go a long way. [Arts in Leicester magazine, 2012]
and that would apply equally well to tonight’s performance at Firebug.

Returning to tonight’s show, brought to us by Paul Collins of Wakeup Leicester, Linear was the headline band and they explained that this would be the band’s last ever gig.

Linear at Firebug, December 2016

Early on in the set, you could hear Franklin’s unmistakable Morrisey intonations, though he by no means continued this throughout the songs. It’s just the way his voice works but when he decides not to, he can slip into the more Franklin tone of voice. The whole set was amazing; one sensational song after another. But when Franklin did a cover of The Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams, things went up a notch. This song is one of the ‘lollipops’ of the Leicester band scene along with Teenage Kicks, I bet you look good on the dance floor and RATM’s Killing in the name of… the kind of covers that most young bands like to have a go at – with variable results, some butt-clenching, some ear-licking, but tonight Franklin made this song his own; what we heard was the Franklin version of Sweet Dreams and he did it like noone else had ever done it.

Jack Franklin at Firebug, December 2016

So, given that Linear is such a successful band, why is this their last gig? I asked Franklin – he told me

“We just all couldn’t do it any more. Guitarist got a job in LDN, bassist up in Sheffield and me trying to complete Uni and build a portfolio for my career. I hate the thought of doing anything half hearted And Linear deserved to be layed to rest.”

I am not sure what he meant by that last comment. It is often seen in the life-cycle of bands that they break up when one or more members take off to do their University courses. It has been a long time since last we heard Linear; Franklin commented

“I’ve missed performing and making music over the past 6-7 months.”

Does he see a future band to replace it? It looks as though he does; he said

“I’d like to go towards a mix of The Editors/Joy Division but with the complexities and tones of an older Foals or current Divv.”

Linear’s last gig, December 2016

These musicians have been working together for several years now; I stood at the front and watched them; you could tell that they shared a chemistry, vibes that reveal themselves in the way they play and the way they interact with each other on the stage.

Linear’s last gig, December 2016 at Firebug

The members of Linear were

Jack Franklin – Lead Vocals
Joe Garratt – Drums
Jacob De Bruyne – Guitar
Jack Pennington – Guitar
Joe Brassfield – Bass Guitar

As I made my way out I managed to extract Franklin from his admiring fans to say to him’ Jack – that was an historic performance. It will go down in the annals of Leicester’s music history.’ Anyone who knows me will understand that I am not given to making hyperbolic statements. As I climbed down the steep Firebug stairs to the ground floor, I chuckled as I thought. “Well, since I am the one who write the annals of Leicester’s music history, I can make it happen.”

Jack Franklin, December 2016

Over the many years that I have stood in front of the stages of Leicester’s music community, I have seen several performances by bands that have deserved high accolades. From Kasabian through to bands that lasted only a short time, but made a remarkable impact in their day, I have witnessed the best musical experiences that this great city has had to offer. Tonight’s performance by Linear was one of them.

Will they be back? My guess is that Franklin certainly will. After spending his most formative teenage years on stage enjoying the adulation of his fans, music in in his genes. Someone who has loved music so much can never retire from it and what ever he might do in future years, you can be sure that we have not seen the last of him yet.

Jack Franklin at Linear’s last gig, December 2016

It would be remiss of me if I failed to say something about Jimmy Amnesia. In their set, earlier on in the show, this Britpop, indie, and punk band from Leicester, led by the vocals of Ryan Jensson, delivered a very pleasing set of songs. We recently reviewed the band’s recent EP Spread It On Thick [Music in Leicester 2016] and we commend their music to discerning fans of Britpop.

Escapade is a band that played at Sumo in 2015 with Jimmy Amnesia.

Escapade’s lead vocalist Sam Wyatt, December 2016

Having seen them tonight they are now on my ‘must see’ list (yes I really do have one!) and am hoping they will make an appearance at Glastonbudget.

Escapade’s drummer Martin Whenham, December 2016

A four-piece band with a stand-out lead singer. Their set of lively, upbeat songs were very good; I thought so and so did several of my rockerati friends who were there.

Escapade at Sumo, 2nd September 2015. Photo: Kevin Gaughan.

Even the fans of this and were eager to tell me how much they loved them.

Escapade at Firebug, December 2016

A highly enjoyable evening with an excellent line-up of bands and one that had a sense of moment about it.

See also:

Our round-up of live music in December

Record reviews 2016

Watch out for

Our review of Music in 2016