Frank Turner, Show 2703……..
The last night of his 18 date ‘The Never Ending Tour of Everywhere 2022’ UK Tour, saw local hero Frank Turner return home to a sold out Southampton Guildhall (home is actually somewhere between Southampton & Portsmouth, but for the purposes of this review we will call this one home!).
Having spent much of 2022 touring following the release of his 9th studio album FTHC, including a mammoth ’50 States in 50 days’ tour of North America, it is fair to say that Frank Turner does live music, and he does it better than anyone else.
Before Frank takes centre stage, in what is a mammoth line up with music starting at 6.30pm, we are treated to Mash P, a solo Afro Beats artist mixing singing and rapping to the delight of the early doors crowd.
He was joined on stage, and then followed by, an artist who fits perfectly alongside Frank’s folk laden sound. American two piece, Truckstop Honeymoon who’s music combines elements of bluegrass, music hall jazz & rock’n’roll, entertained with stories of life on the road and plenty of banter. They certainly do not take themselves seriously, as they rattled through a high energy set (despite Katie having laryngitis) together with a standing bass, guitar and banjo.
On the contrary Colchester’s own quartet Pet Needs brought pure punk rock energy to the stage, with new tracks ‘Lost Again’ & ‘Ibiza In Winter’ alongside fan favourites ’Toothpaste’ and ‘Punk Isn’t Dead; Its Just Up For Sale’. Recently releasing new album ‘Primetime Entertainment’ the band appear to be having a time of their lives on this tour. They put on a fantastic show and remain very humble & appreciative. As they thanked the crowd, Frank Turner, the crew and everybody for supporting them in a year that has out done their wildest dreams. They will be back in Southampton in Dec when they play the Joiners.
Time for the main act and from the moment Frank & band took to the stage, belting out the opening “heigh ho, heigh ho, heigh ho” of the classic ‘Four Simple Words’, the crowd is awake, alive and in full voice! Followed by ‘Haven’t Been Doing So Well’ and then headlong into ‘Photosynthesis’, it is evident that tonight, Frank Turner means business!
Accompanied by the ever faithful and brilliant Sleeping Souls, the pace of the show is relentless, in what becomes a blistering 26 song set! Even when Frank takes time to talk to the crowd, it feels like it is done with purpose.
For those who have never attended a Frank Turner show, they are raucous, energy filled, punk rock, in your face shows, BUT (and it’s a big but) there is always a feeling of companionship and camaraderie. It’s a communion and tonight is no different. Frank takes the mic for a brief break in the opening numbers to talk about the rules of the night, with rule #1 being ‘don’t be a d***head!’. The second & third rules are “sing along if you know the words” and “look after each other”, this is a clear direction for the night and every single person in the room shouts back in total 100% agreement. Everyone is welcome and everyone is here for a good time, in a safe space.
This is why everyone should experience a Frank Turner show.
The first half of the set include a mix of classic Frank Turner tracks, such as ‘Plain Sailing Weather’, ‘If Ever I Stray’ and a crowd pleasing local favourite that is ‘Wessex Boy’. Alongside new album tracks ‘Punches’ and ‘The Work’.
Frank’s songs are all incredibly personal, and you feel honoured when being allowed to listen to them. Silence is cast over the venue when Frank introduces ‘A Wave Across a Bay’, a song written in tribute to the late Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison who took his own life.
The crowd were then treated to a wonderful folk laden solo section including ‘The Ballad Of Me and My Friends’ and ‘Be More Kind’, plus a particularly on-topic classic in ‘Thatcher F***ed The Kids’.
The energy never truly left though; the pit opened once more for quintessentially hardcore track ‘Non Serviam’, which is followed by powerful driving force of ‘The Gathering’. The room was filled with a sea of limbs, hair and shirts.
The encore is perfect with ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’ and ‘Recovery’ opening this section. ‘Try This At Home’ and ‘I Still Believe’ end the night, and it is the lyrics of the final song that most explain the enduring power of his music. As the whole venue belts out “Who’d have thought, that after all, something as simple as rock n roll could save us all?” Maybe, in fact most probably, we all feel a sense of saviour in the communal spirit of a Frank Turner show.
Seeing Frank Turner live is something everyone should experience, but be warned, it becomes addictive. He is back at the Portsmouth Guildhall in Feb 23 (tickets here) and I already have my ticket!