Whether you’re a die-hard fan or yet to experience him, you may well have heard of Frank Turner’s incredible prowess as a live performer. It’s not rare to hear musicians described by their fans as “even better live”, but in Frank’s case it really is true. His recorded tracks are already excellent, but they’re brought to a new, explosive life when Frank, often backed by his band The Sleeping Souls, as he was at The Hippodrome, break out their matching white shirts and black jeans and hit the stage.
This performance was a particularly special one for Frank and co., as they played past midnight into 7th August to ring in the release of their latest album, Positive Songs For Negative People, in perfect style. After some excellent support from “lyrical genius” Chas Palmer-Williams and Americana/folk-punk acoustic singer songwriter PJ Bond, Frank and the band burst onto the stage of the intimate venue with “Get Better”, the meteoric first track released from the new album, which got the highly-anticipating crowd fully pumped from the first chords.
The gig was, of course, a celebration of the new album release, and so the set list was full to the brim with almost every track from the new release. However it wouldn’t be a Frank Turner gig without a few classic favourites, and that’s exactly what came next in the form of the hopeful, patriotic “If I Ever Stray” and “Long Live The Queen”, a grief-ridden but beautifully spirited lament to a deceased friend. Beloved classics – all of which were from Frank’s collection upbeat, anthemic offerings, in keeping with the celebratory tone of the evening – often came sandwiched between new tracks (each and every one of which was as brilliantly written, gloriously performed and gratefully received as the next); after newbies “Demons” and “Josephine” came “Peggy Sang The Blues”, followed by fast-favourite “Glorious You” and top-tappingly rosy “Love Forty Down”.
Perhaps one of the best-received highlights of the night was “The Ballad of Me and My Friends”, a constantly firm fan favourite from Frank’s first album, Sleep Is for the Week, that he’s only recently started to perform again – to everyone’s joy – after several years of leaving it out of his set lists. And, of course, a night in a Frank Turner audience would never have been complete without “Glory Hallelujah”, the perfect singalong track “The Road” and the illustriously raucous anthem “I Still Believe”, of course featuring the tradition of the crowd sitting on the ground a leaping up into a dancing frenzy on drummer Nigel‘s cue. Accompanying these to close the show were “Mittens”, the latest, already hugely popular track to be released from the new album, and “The Next Storm”, a powerful song of hope and anticipation.
An encore quickly came, of course, opened with new track “The Angel Islington” and followed by three hugely popular older numbers; the slightly calmer “The Way I Tend To Be”, the fail-safe dance-inducing “Try This At Home” and the stridently vitriolic and effortlessly fun “Four Simple Words” to close the show on the ultimate high note.
This being the fourth of five Frank gigs I’ve attended, this show had an atmosphere like no other; Frank ran on pure happiness, joyful anticipation and adrenaline as the new album he was clearly (and deservedly) so proud of was released to the world, and the crowd were raised to ceiling vicariously through his elation. Every live performance by Frank is pure glory, but there was something so wondrously unique about this night in Kingston that made it one of the best gigs we, as Frank Turner fans, have ever witnessed.
Article by Amie Bailey