Since seeing Frisky & Mannish live it has been incredibly difficult to write up something that does them justice. So I will resort to expletives and a tremendous amount of hyperbole. They are fucking amazing. They examine pop as it should be scrutinized: like it’s art. As a two-some, they re-interpret pop standards, deconstruct and engender narratives of music that will fill you with absolute joy. They also have the ability to make you laugh, think and never look at a song in the same way again. The two apply a sense of powerful storytelling to songs that they cover so that the new version transcends the original. They are not simply a musical comedy act: the pair rework each pop tangent so that, much like Penelope at her loom, they deliver everything glorious that you’d desire in a show. You only have to check out their version of That's Not My Name. Its stunning:
Frisky, the core singer, owns an absolutely voluptuous set of lungs, so when she hits those big notes one feels you could jump on board and ask to be flown somewhere exotic like Albania. Indeed, during "Anything I Can Do" they send up the modern experience of reality shows, where the vocalists will do their best to trill out one note for about five minutes. Most famous for this kind of “behaviour” are the likes of Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey. They have the sinister ability to string out a single syllable for an entire octave. Frisky and Mannish pick-up on this phenomenon and expose it for what it truly is.
The boy is Mannish. He tinkles away at the ivories and will lend his voice when the diva feels his inclusion appears to be appropriate. Indeed, despite being a du, the two strive to outsmart the other and always through the discourse of a pop song. So what kind material do they perform? At the show I attended, they re-imagined the Pussycat Dolls' "Beep" into a sublime slice of vaudeville. They collapse the epic Roxie from "Chicago" to Justin Timberlake’s "Sexyback" to highlight the story of the iconic boyband star. Suddenly, Justin’s song is actually sexy. Now, at other shows Frisky emerges as Kate Nash while singing a glorious crossbreed between Kate Bush’s "Wuthering Heights" and Nash’s number 2 record "Foundations". This is an epic merger between the two songs. They also have new material on the go. I witnessed a glorious mega-medley about songs which all contained a question in the title. It was rather amazing, something that you really have to watch to experience. I can’t quite describe it. My only question is: where was Kylie’s classic 1990s philosophical question "What Do I Have To Do"? I didn’t hear it despite its deeply existentialist question, and perhaps Hegelian themes, proposed in the title & chorus.
You see, Frisky and Mannish love pop music. Which is why I love them. They even take a peek at the Girls Aloud debut single "The Sound Of The Underground" and reconstruct it as "The Wheels on the bus". Filling the Xenomania anthem with nursery rhymes. Now, some might immediately be thinking that this sort of ground has been covered by Mad’Donna and “The Wheels on The Bus” but Frisky and Mannish don’t simply apply one nursery rhyme to an abstract pop song but interweave a collage of songs into the Girls Aloud number one, ensuring it is not only genius but the joke extends itself throughout the performance.
Highlight of the night was their exposure of real sinister messages in the songs that you thought were actually innocent. The songs seem like they’ve been written by a stalker who simply had a great knack for constructing melodies. I will never look at "Eternal Flame", "Never Had a Dream Come True" or "Can’t Take My Eyes Off You" in the same way ever again. With Frisky and Mannish at the helm, they emerge as deeply uncomfortable disturbing productions that must have been written in an asylum. Indeed, when Mannish sings "I Just Called To Say I Love You", albeit with critical pauses filled with dirty silences, you realize just how strange the songs are.
Then there is the remarkable ode to songs about dancing. Again, this is a musical essay with its subject based on what we do when we head to the dancefloor. Key tracks covered are "Murder On the Dancefloor", "Don’t Stop Movin’" and Ms. Estefan’s "Rhythm is Gonna Get You". This is severe satire at its best for pop addicts like myself. Finally. Frisky and Mannish are extraordinary. Extraordinarily talented, wonderfully clever and extremely good fun. They’re are a complete treat and I absolutely look forward to their album.