Video: Band’s tour starts in Leeds living room

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FOR any music fan, having your heroes play live in your living room would be the stuff of dreams.

But, yesterday, for Harehills resident Cleve Freckleton it was a dream which came true.

PIC: Steve Riding

PIC: Steve Riding

For one afternoon only, his modest terraced home on Nowell Place was the opening venue for a promotional tour by Fun Lovin’ Criminals drummer Frank Benbini’s newest band.

Uncle Frank - which also boasts Naim Cortazzi in its line-up - play London tomorrow and then 11 other gigs in cities all around the UK.

But 51-year-old musician and Pentecostal minister Cleve - known to many across Leeds as “Reverend Chunky” - was the first to enjoy a personal performance of tracks from the new album, Smiles for Miles, with one in particular the inspiration for a competition which led to perhaps the most intimate tour ever.

With Step Into My Room in mind, Uncle Frank simply asked fans to send their names and addresses to their promotions team if they liked the idea of a personal performance in their home.

Cleve’s was the first out of the hat when a draw was held last month, so his Leeds home became the venue for the tour debut.

He said: “I’ve been fortunate to know Frank for six or seven years and he’s a great guy - but having his band play in my living room is just mind-blowing! I’m getting a real buzz out of it not just because, as a fellow musician, I know music is in his heart but also because I know he understands how it can help people.”

Smiles For Miles is described as an eclectic mix inspired by Benbini and Cortazzi’s extensive record collections, incorporating elements of soul, pop, jazz, funk, old-school hip-hop and even some Disney soundtracks.

“Uncle” Frank Benbini said: “The idea for the living room tour to announce the album came from just wanting to do something a bit different rather than just the usual marketing stuff - and, to be honest, the response has been humbling.

“Some of the guys we’re playing to in their homes around the UK have been telling us the gig at their place will be in a marquee in the garden, someone else is having a hog roast and someone’s even brewed a special “Uncle Frank” beer.

“For us, this project isn’t about money; it’s about connecting with the fans and it’s been awesome - and so much more than we expected.”

Mixed by Grammy-Award-winning Tim Latham, the Smiles For Miles album has been released by Mita Records and will be available to buy from April 28.