This Frank Turner Article was written by Kieron Keen, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Macon Oxley.
In what seems to be an endless cycle for this guy, Frank Turner is back touring the UK to coincide with his latest album release, ‘Positive Songs for Negative People’ – an album which can be described as the closing of a chapter in the singer’s life with rousing lyrics, reflecting a man who has gone through the trials and tribulations of heartbreak and loss, coming out the other side with battle scars, but still with a smile on his face.
It’s to be expected, then, that the gig should reflect this kind of positive outlook as we head straight in with the Bruce Springsteen-like anthem ‘Get Better’, which instantly has the crowd in a state of frenzy as they scream the lyrics “we can get better/because we’re not dead yet!” at the top of their lungs.
The crowd’s energy seems to be endless as Turner and his band, The Sleeping Souls, weave their way through a catalogue of songs that dance along the lines of folk shaking hands with punk and flirting with an underlay of pop. It’s a real mixed bag as acoustically-driven songs, such as ‘Losing Days’, can garner the same response as bombastic rock tracks like ‘Josephine’ (which started with a riff from Iron Maiden’s ‘Run To the Hills’) with each song orchestrating the crowd into a sea of bouncing, clapping and fist pumping. There was no respite, no moment to gather yourself as Turner took only brief pauses to interact with the audience directly with rapid-fire whit, and splitting them into two teams – one for lead guitarist, Ben Lloyd, and one for bassist, Tarrant Anderson. As if encouragement was necessary, the crowd were now vying for the title of best team.
There is a solemn moment during the set as the band leave the stage all to Turner, who has now reached a decade of being a solo artist. To commemorate this, we are treated to three songs from just him and his acoustic guitar. The fan favourite, ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’, showed the togetherness between the crowd and Turner as he may be alone on the stage, but never alone in song as the lyrics soar throughout the room. We then come to the point where Turner displays raw emotion in a cathartic rendition of song ‘Demons’, as it was done in tribute to Nick Alexander who tragically lost his life during the terrorist attack at a gig in Paris only a week or so previously. The song itself is stripped down to its bare bones and is a perfect example of how lyrics can evolve into so much more when relating it to real life tragedy.
After a fan requested the tongue-in-cheek song ‘Heartless Bastard Motherfucker’, the band rejoined Turner on stage and treated us to a second helping of adrenaline-fused songs, which included a full venue sit-down during the chorus of ‘Photosynthesis’ as the crowd leapt from the floor with star jumps masterminded by crew member, Lee, during ‘Recovery’.
We come to a premature end with the single ‘The Next Storm’, taken from his latest album, as the band retreat to the back for a few minutes to compose and then come out to deliver a 4-song encore, culminating with ‘Four Simple Words’, which actively encourages everyone to become carefree, joyful, and, most importantly, to dance.
It’s an odd feeling when at a Frank Turner gig, in the sense that you don’t feel like you’re in a crowd of strangers; you feel united, you feel like you can move with a freedom only granted when in this space. It’s a true testament to him as an artist that he can showcase such talent in sending such a positive message through songs, but can also back that up with assertively positive live show. The best way to summarise just how incredible his connection is with the people who pay to see him is by using his own words, “loudest f****** crowd ever”.