If there’s one impressive thing about Turner’s loyal fan base, it’s their ability to shout back his lyrics no matter how new the song is
There’s no such thing as a typical Frank Tuner fan; a statement made clear by the wide variety of people streaming into Colston Hall for the Hampshire born singer-songwriter’s first of two sold out shows. From groups of teenagers, to the solitary elderly, and families in between, it seems like Turner has drawn a random sample from the local population and enticed them in with his witty but often solemn tongue, driving folk band and a tenacious desire to see every attendee have a fun night.
But first we’re given a quick glimpse of one of the smaller artists from close-knit independent record label Xtra Mile Recordings, where all of tonight’s performers are signed, in the form of Will Varley. The Londoner’s half sung/half spoken lyrics provide great entertainment as he details Nick Clegg’s inability to play Tetris and the problem with email scams, but with some deep and moving thoughts as well. Next, Skinny Lister take to the stage with their brand of indie-folk designed to get everyone on their feet and moving. An especially exuberant double bass player and even a sea shanty thrown in achieve this and once they’ve left the stage the gathered fans look well warmed up.
Now the excitement builds, before finally erupting when the house lights go down and backing band The Sleeping Souls closely followed by Frank Turner himself walk on and crack straight into new single Get Better. If there’s one impressive thing about Turner’s loyal fan base, it’s their ability to shout back his lyrics no matter how new the song is, as the chorus “We can get better, because we’re not dead yet” rings out through the venue and no doubt across the centre and down to the Harbourside too. The pace doesn’t relent with fan favourite ‘If Ever I Stray’ and heaviest song of the evening, ‘One Foot Before the Other’ soon following. This is one of the few where the singer’s punk background is evident as he paces the stage, microphone in hand, screaming into the jubilant faces of the front row.
If there were any doubts of the 33 year old’s dedication to touring they’re quickly removed when he announces that tonight marks his 1790th solo show, no mean feat considering he started this project just ten years ago. This preludes a solo section starting with ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’, the only song from Turner’s debut album to make the cut tonight, and the contrast between the layered, busy new tracks and this simple acoustic number is vast, though both give the crowd just as much enjoyment. A sombre rendition of ‘Demons’ is dedicated to Nick Alexander, a friend who was killed in the Paris attacks but the positivity rings though, “You won’t get everything you wanted, but you will never be defeated.”
When the band retake the stage the energy sets in again, with new songs ‘Mittens’ and ‘The Next Storm’ getting just as good a reaction as old favourites ‘Wessex Boy’ and ‘Photosynthesis’. During the latter, the crowd are urged to sit down and jump up dancing when the chorus kicks in for the final time. They do so diligently and for a moment the stalls, back seating and balcony are transformed into a bobbing sea of people shouting of how they will resist the ageing process and live life to its fullest.
Before long the performers depart but return quickly for a four song encore including Turner’s still biggest song ‘I Still Believe’, where he in expresses his “need for guitars and drums and desperate poetry”. Looking at the euphoric faces of the departing, diverse crowd, it’s clear that there are at least a few others who concur.
Check out ‘I Still Believe’ right here: