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Wednesday, 6 February 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls (Live Review By Alex)

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

Frank Turner has become the most successful folk punk artist of the last ten years. His popularity doesn’t necessarily come from a trend towards singer-songwriters or a resurgence in the genre. Rather, he has earned a reputation as a showman, an artist with a passion for live music. The best concerts are the ones which summon up that communal spirit, and it is a feeling which is in plentiful supply tonight.

Grace Petrie (8) opens the night. Throughout her set, she cracks jokes, performs uplifting protest anthems, and generally succeeds in getting the sparse amount of audience members early in a great mood! While she is accompanied only by her acoustic guitar on a wide stage, she performs with conviction

Every single ounce of praise which could be granted to Jimmy Eat World (8) has already been given out. An inspiring act from the early emo movement and great songwriters in spite of the simplicity of the music. Despite their status though, they perform with an incredibly humble attitude - almost as if they were in the early stages of their career, seeming overjoyed to be the warm-up act. Jim Atkins and co. mostly play their biggest hits, charging through Pain and Get It Faster with charisma while Hear You me provides a beautiful moment of quiet introspection. While the band has some devotees here who know every lyric, the crowd doesn’t really erupt until the notorious closer, The Middle. Regardless, they are a great opener, who give over a lot of energy in preparation for the main act.

‘This is a punk rock show’ Frank declares mid-way through Photosynthesis, ‘but there are two rules. 1. Don’t be an asshole and 2. If you know the words you’ve got to sing as loud as you can!’ These opening statements become the blueprint for the entire show. Thousands of people, being kind to one another and raising their voices in unison. Recovery, If Ever I Stray and I Still Believe are just some of the anthems eliciting large crowd reactions – ones which are always matched by the huge performances of Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls (10). When he needs to, our charismatic frontman taunts and jibes the audience until we reach acceptable heights of volume. Meanwhile, he never stays still for a second longer than he needs to, jaunting around both on and off stage as if locked in a fierce competition with the audience: who can emanate the most energy? Who can bring the most life to this show?

Perhaps fittingly given Turner's reputation as a folk artist, there are moments where the band leave the stage and this becomes a solo performance. These prove some of the best parts, as we get the chance to hear some rarities including This Town Ain't Big Enough for The One Of Me, the acoustic rendition of Glorious You, and Eulogy – translated into and performed in Welsh. None of the friendliness or camaraderie which is bought to the show is let up in these moments, and even feels strengthened when our frontman insists that we come together regardless of differences. As the encore ensues, we are guided through lively performances of The Way I Tend To Be, Get Better, and finally Four Simple Words. It is on this last, adrenaline-fuelled song in which every inhibition still lurking finally lets up. A circle pit is formed before Frank leaps into the crowd, microphone still in hand, both to crowd surf, and waltz with random audience members.

If I had to only point out one thing I loved about this show, it would not just be the great music on display, the bells and whistles of the stage show or the support acts – although trust me when I say that all those things were equally awesome. Instead, it would be the sense of community brought about by a crowd of adoring fans raising their voices in unison. To take one of Frank's own songs slightly out of context ‘’some people think that we’re fools’’. Indeed, stepping out into the real world after the house lights are raised feels somewhat reluctant tonight. Still, there is something euphoric about singing ‘’we can get better because we’re not dead yet!’’ with hundreds of strangers. What a show! What a great show!

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