Well it’s official I have now seen Frank Turner more times than I saw David Bowie! How come? Well obviously David Bowie is no longer with us, but also Frank is one hell of a talented performer. Before I tell you about Mr Turner’s performance let me say a little about the excellent support acts. Firstly Grace Petrie, she is a supreme talent; smart, funny, topical, self-deprecating and a great singer songwriter. For just one person with a guitar and a crowd that had come to see Frank Turner she owned the stage. Did anyone who had not heard of Grace Petrie before this night leave having not become a fan? I doubt it. She was fucking awesome. Her treatise on protest singers, or the lack of, “I Wish The Guardian Believed That I Exist” was pertinent, serious, satirical and funny all at the same time. She proved that she can also do happy songs with her ode to her niece, “Ivy” the line about missing Kasabian at Glastonbury rather than Dolly Parton is hilarious and worth the price of admission alone! It was a short set, but every song was a winner and left me wanting to see and hear more from this fabulous woman.
Next up were a band that formed in Arizona back in 1993, Jimmy Eat World. Not so many years ago it is likely that they would have been way above Frank Turner on the bill. Their name comes from a drawing in crayon from guitarist Tom Linton’s younger brother Ed showing another brother Jim, pushing the Earth into his mouth. The band’s pop punk sound has aged well and Jim Adkin’s vocals still hit the spot. There were many highlights in their eleven song set; “Futures” and “Bleed American” but perhaps the best was saved for the last song. A blistering, crowd pleasing romp through stone cold classic “The Middle”, the band’s biggest hit released way back in 2001.
Frank Turner was very much on form, he is great on his own with just a guitar, but when backed by the magnificent Sleeping Souls he reaches stratospheric levels. Ben Lloyd on guitar, harmonica and mandolin, Tarrant Anderson on bass guitar, Matt Nasir on keyboards and Nigel Powell on drums are real heroes that drive this set to enable Frank to pull off yet another amazing show. Some of the newer songs are for me a little soft and I am not sure that I like a loved up and contented Frank as much as an angry Frank. But there is no denying that he has a canon of truly wonderful songs. I could never tire of “Photosynthesis” and I believe that “1933” will be a future classic. The acoustic interlude was wonderful and as always “Long Live The Queen” brought tears to my eyes as I remembered those people who left us way too soon. “The Ballad Of Me And My Friends” was among the many crowd sing along highlights. After that acoustic sojourn the Sleeping Souls returned with huge bombastic effect with “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous” and “The Next Storm”. There was hardly a bum left on a seat for those and when the main set ended with a stirring run through “I Still Believe” everyone was jumping and given the sound of the audience singing I suspect that there were many sore throats the next morning! Obviously there was an encore and the best part of that was for me the heartfelt and meaningful plea to “Be More Kind” and the full on rock stomp of “Get Better”. Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls get better every time I see them and I can hardly wait for the next time!
All photos, apart from the gig poster, were provided by rock photographer extraordinaire John Hayhurst at snapagig.com