London-based intergalactic funk collective encapsulate the essence of street music in Nottingham's lofty Bodega. Words by Ben Standring. Photography by Lucy Beth Photography (@lucybethphotography).
Whilst the country was unaware of the impending restrictions that were soon to come from the coronavirus pandemic, Franc Moody arrived in Nottingham for the sixth stage of an impressive seventeen-date European tour in full spirits. Their long-awaited debut record Dream in Colour had been released the previous week; they had just received word that their 2,000 capacity date at London’s o2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire had sold out; and entering Nottingham's iconic Bodega for yet another sold-out show, their set confirmed a new staple favourite for the genre.
Franc Moody offer a genre-spanning experience that soundscapes the culture and roots of millions across the globe, yet their vision is inherently rooted within London’s DIY warehouse party scene. The project – stemming originally from Tottenham – has been bolstered by the rise of woozy dance-funk collectives Jungle and Parcels in the last five years, yet their ascendency has also been indebted to the craftsmanship of songwriting duo Ned Franc and John Moody in their box-studio when toying with new sonic ideas and sound palettes.
The dynamic pair grew up musically with the help of their parents’ eclectic tastes, with legendary impresarios Fats Domino, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry instilling the 60s core of rhythm and blues that permeates their music still today. Yet the breadth of the band extends further than the studio setup, with live and visual musical experiences in New Orleans and at Glastonbury siphoning a dynamic energy into the duo’s ethereal approach to the live platform.
'Franc Moody offer a genre-spanning experience that soundscapes the culture and roots of millions across the globe, yet their vision is inherently rooted within London’s DIY warehouse party scene'.
Kicking off their set with A Little Something For The Weekend, the full live set-up of multi-instrumentalists – with Franc and Moody at the helm of the ship – offered a rousing example of how to put on an effective show. The duo replicated the high-octane, immersive experience from debut record Dream in Colour and early compilation Dance Moves and channeled the collection of songs into a cohesive and fluid setlist which springs unexpected surprises; instrumental solos occasionally veered off-track and the likes of Night Flight and Dopamine extended further than their original studio arrangements.
Franc Moody borrow from the legendary soul-based funk of George Clinton and Nile Rodgers and inject the passion of the UK underground party scene. This youthful, exuberant twist was seen in the likes of Night Flight, which was interspersed with a combination of slinking basslines and hazy vocal offerings. The maelstrom of traditional and contemporary soul inspirations is key to the multi-faceted entity that is their catalogue of music; a catalogue with an adhesive quality that engrains itself within the psyche of audiences across the country who twist and turn in jubilation, the buoyant and bouncy She’s Too Good For Me remaining a stalwart celebration of funk’s golden era, whilst sun-kissed vocals matched the underlying groove of In Too Deep.
'Onstage, the two leading men project their carnal desire for a party atmosphere onto a crowd unequivocally brimming with euphoria'.
Pheromones wrestled the band’s contemporary influences with the stable and reliable funk core, a twinkling synth arrangement delicately narrating its own story over the guitar-driven single. Having originally been part of a scene so reliant on live performance, and with influences spanning back to little pockets of energy in New Orleans, the entrapment of a small studio over the course of recording and mixing the debut record has noticeably inspired a greater love for performing live. Onstage, the two leading men project their carnal desire for a party atmosphere onto a crowd unequivocally brimming with euphoria, injecting youthful exuberance around the venue with the incomprehensible support of their extraordinary live band, who help to create a show cascading between contemporary space-disco floor-fillers and soul-tinged atmosphere-settlers like Skin on Skin.
From the dawn of Night Flight, both band and audience were swept into a spiral of strutting, with flailing limbs contorting into one singular mass of frenzied energy. On occasions, the bolstering of a kick drum spins the band’s sonic balance abruptly on its head, transitioning a woozy funk-based collective to regimented warehouse-rave orchestrators. The increased bass earlier in the set within Dream in Colour and Terra Firma and towards the finale in Dopamine and In Too Deep projected an effervescent spark that replicated the pandemonium of binge-heavy warehouse raves, before You Got Some Nerve concluded the evening in triumphant style.
By stamping their contemporary vision on a genre they have idealised for decades – whether that is with the help of a pulsating baseline, a 1960s Italian organ or an array of key-tars and oboes –
Franc Moody are making the music they love on both a recorded and live platform and are managing to rejuvenate a genre so remarkably idiosyncratic. The captivating rhythms of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic used to grace dance-floors worldwide, and by amping up the bass and introducing a few modern twists, the duo have restored a euphoric justice to a previously dated style of music, returning the grooves of the 60s to a beguiled sold-out Nottingham crowd.