Music inhabits our daily lives more than we’d care to admit, it’s all around us. It’s on the radio, it’s on TV and there’s now more ways than ever to experience it. In a live setting, music can make a room full of strangers become the best of friends, it’s communal. With that in mind, it’s only natural to use people’s love of music for some good.
A night of music dubbed ‘Street Noise’ was organised by the Big Issue North to raise funds for Big Issue North Trust and INSP (International Network of Street Papers).
The Big Issue North is a North West publication that was established in 1992, they produce content that is then sold by vendors in the battle against homelessness in the North West.
The gig started out like any other, with a relatively unknown support act, a four piece rock band from Bolton, Our Fold. The lads showed off their talents as they managed to fill a big stage with their booming sounds and indie grooves. Clearly not overawed by the vast size of the O2 Ritz stage, they played through some of their songs with the confidence of a band that’s been doing this forever, ‘Don’t You Want A Lover’, ‘She Goes On’ & ‘Passing Over’ did enough to earn them a huge applause from the crowd.
The host of the evening, Inspiral Carpets keyboardist turned DJ, Clint Boon, was treating the crowd to a few spins of Manchester’s finest with The Courteeners & Oasis keeping the crowd on their toes before the second support act, Felix Hagan & The Family.
Felix Hagan & The Family are a seven piece band that is drenched in classic rock, camp pop, glitter and fur. A section of the crowd saw the band open for Frank last year so many were donning the glitter but for everyone else, the band’s lighthearted rock star strut and irresistible grooves were enough to win them over completely.
The band brought a level of fun to the show as they have the audience clapping a long and dancing to ‘Chance It In The Fire’ as they posture and pose across the stage, their energy was unwavering through ‘Lords & Ladies’ and ‘Go Back Home’. There’s a very real Rocky Horror Show vibe to the band as their theatrics hit fever pitch with their new songs ‘Delirium Tremendous’ & ‘Hey I Want You’, two songs that have everyone bouncing a long, it seems the band have a knack of creating music that is easy to fall for.
Finishing their set off with the empowering and spirit lifting, ‘Kiss The Misfits’ the band depart the stage in the knowledge they left everything out there and will have made a lot of new fans for sure.
After the grandiose of Hagan and his family, the night’s headliner, Frank Turner wanders onto stage with an acoustic guitar and with a humble “hello” to the crowd, he begins his set in earnest with new song ‘Be More Kind’. The message of the song is self explanatory but it is all the more poignant on a night dedicated to such a good cause.
From then on Turner and the crowd are intertwined in song as everyone sings a long to a litany of his hits, ‘The Way I Tend To Be’ and ‘The Next Storm’ provide ear piercing volumes coming from the crowd, as they take it upon themselves to act as backing vocals in the absence of Turner’s band, The Sleeping Souls.
The heat and the energy are turned up to levels that you’d never expect when you think of an acoustic solo show of Turner’s, everyone is in high spirits and Frank can’t help but smile as he struggles to be heard above the crowd’s singing, a reminder that he is one the best loved singer/songwriters the UK has to offer.
Pausing only to tell anecdotes about certain songs such as the story of his grandma, Peggy rejecting the advances of a Nazi soldier with a swift kick to the Bälle before playing ‘Peggy Sang The Blues’ as well as discussing his discontent with Harry Potter (earning sizable boo’s from the crowd) before his god-daughter, Eva Mae changed his mind lead to him playing ‘Song For Eva Mae’. These stories help to add a personal touch to the night and makes the room feel more like a gathering of friends swapping tales than a cavernous music venue.
During one of the fan favourite hits, ‘Photosynthesis’ Frank pauses to remind everyone the reasons why we are here and to under line the night’s message that we need to be proactive, think about what you can do to help alleviate homelessness with more than just the money donated today. He also talks about the Manchester Arena bombing and his recent show supporting Blink 182 at the Castefield Bowl, finishing it off with the message “this shit beats the other shit that’s going on out there.”
The atmosphere created is electric and Frank continues to build upon it with the rousing punk folk hits ‘Long Live The Queen’, ‘Recovery’ & ‘If Ever I Stray’ before finishing the night off with the aptly titled, ‘I Still Believe’.
For the encore, Turner brought Felix Hagan & The Family back on stage to play a couple of karaoke cover songs such as Queen’s, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and Green Day’s, ‘Basket Case’ that sends the crowd into complete delirium before finishing off with the quintessential Frank Turner show closer, ‘Four Simple Words’ during which, Turner surfs the crowd with microphone in hand, ending the night in a chaotic but fun natured manner.
The show provided on all fronts as it completely sold out which meant a huge sum of money was raised for the trust, every band/artist on the bill made sure that the fans were treated to more than a sense of self satisfaction. The message of the night was clear from the start of Turner’s set and is a message that deserves to be echoed as loud and as proud as possible, “Be more kind my friends, be more kind.”
To learn more about the Big Issue North, what they do and how you can help, please click the link provided: Big Issue North