With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – City Hall, Newcastle – Wednesday 27th November 2019 December 2, 2019


This was the twelfth time that I have seen Frank Turner live, fourteenth if I count one Möngöl Hörde show and a Million Dead gig. This was also the first time that I had been to any gig in Newcastle. I was accompanied by my wonderful wife Catwoman a.k.a. Catherine, she is also a fan of Mr. Turner. I was also lucky enough to catch up with top bloke and all-round decent geezer Scott, who I met through those nice folks at 3 Songs & Out. So from a social and personal perspective which looked like a great night, the venue was pretty classy too. So how was the music? The first support was Australian singer-songwriter, Emily Barker. She gave us a beautiful and highly accomplished acoustic set. She gave a towering acapella performance of a Sister Rosetta Tharpe gospel song and “Sister Goodbye” a song about Rosetta Tharpe from the perspective of a woman who might have been her lover, Marie Knight (more of Rosetta later). Emily’s own songs are particularly classy and very deep lyrically, particularly “No. 5 Hurricane” and “Sunrise”. Emily also covered the Boss with a sharp take on “Tougher Than The Rest”. I will be checking out more of Emily Barker’s stuff and I recommend that you do that too.

Well, there was no second support act as such because Frank Turner was his own second support act. Kicking off proceedings with an acoustic set of songs from his latest album ‘No Mans Land’. It featured more than half of the songs from the record and had Frank telling the stories behind each song in a truncated version of the podcasts that accompanied the release. The tales are of women who are either not recognised in history or certainly not given as much credit as they deserved. There are some wonderful stories in these songs, far too many for me to tell here, so click this link and take a listen to the podcasts. He kicked off with a rousing “Jinny Bingham’s Ghost” the story of a woman who resided in Camden hundreds of years ago and is said to still haunt the Worlds End pub and the Underworld night club. It has taken me a long while to warm to the ‘No Mans Land’ album but hearing the songs in this environment really made me appreciate them so much more. Particular highlights for me were “I Believed You William Blake”, “The Hymn of Kassiani” and “Sister Rosetta”, essentially the stories of William Blake’s wife, Kassiana the woman who turned down a King and very unsung guitar hero and pioneer Rosetta Tharpe. However the closing “Lioness”, about early 20th century Egyptian feminist leader Huda Sha’arawi and contains the awe-inspiring lyrical couplet “She isn’t going to hide her face anymore. She isn’t going to know her place anymore”. I think that “Lioness” is one of Frank’s best songs.

After a short break, Frank returned to the stage for a seated unplugged style set with the Sleeping Souls. This set was a mostly chronological walk through the Turner back catalogue giving the stories behind many of his well-known numbers and quite a few of the deeper album cuts. The twenty song set was mostly lively and upbeat, although the energy dropped a little for me in the middle. The band opened with a pair of songs that got the audience ready to rock and dance, although we all remained seated until very near the end, how polite are us British folks? Those songs were “The Ballad of Me and My Friends” and “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous” from 2007 and 2008 respectively. Frank told us a tale of first coming to live in London as a teenager and wandering around introspectively in a trenchcoat trying to be different but essentially looking just like every other teenage hopeful or chancer, that introduced the stirring and clever “One Foot Before The Other”. We were also treated to the best live performances of “Reasons Not to Be an Idiot” and “I Am Disappeared” that I have experienced to date. But for me, the best was saved to last and the faux encore which began with “Photosynthesis” which is a song that it is impossible to sit down to, so we didn’t, everyone got up for that. The first line of the chorus is “I won’t sit down”, how could anyone ignore such a call to arms (or should that be a call to feet). I don’t know why but “I Still Believe” always stirs me to tears, admittedly they are happy tears and both Catwoman and I gave ourselves sore throats singing along to it. Frank and the Sleeping Souls closed with perhaps one of the finest songs of their recent releases, “Be More Kind” a heartfelt message to those of us surviving this sad, mad, bad modern world. So whatever you do try to aspire to that song and “be more kind, my friend, try to be more kind”

All the photos apart from the gig poster were taken on my cheap android phone. The videos were all found on YouTube if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know.

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Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – First Direct Arena, Leeds – Sunday 27th January 2019 February 5, 2019


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

 

 

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – The Refectory, Leeds University – Thursday 1st December 2016 December 6, 2016


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Let me make a very bold statement right at the start of this post. Right now I believe that this is almost certainly the best gig I have ever seen in just over 44 years of gig going, it is a close run thing with Bowie at the Phoenix Festival in the 90s, but Frank just about shades it. In fact I have now seen Frank Turner more times than I saw David Bowie, I saw the Dame ten times. Including one show with Million Dead I have now seen Francis Edward Turner eleven times. The majority of those were at Reading and Leeds Festivals. For me he just seems to get better every time that I see him.

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This show, at the venue where the Who recorded the classic live album ‘Live At Leeds’ was stunning. Frank and the Sleeping Souls powered through a non-stop barrage of excellent tunes with incredible energy and soul. They were on stage for just about two hours. If anyone in the audience was disappointed then they must have been really unwell. The mix of songs ranged across Frank’s career with “Worse Things Happen At Sea” and “Nashville Tennessee” being my particular favourites from those early days. He played both of these along with “Ballad Of My Friends” during an emotional acoustic interlude in the middle of the show.

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The show kicked off with the rousing and anthemic “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous” and after that he had the crowd eating out of his hand and singing along to everything. It is great to see how quickly the newer songs have begun to sound like Frank classics in a live setting; “The Next Storm”, “Love Forty Down” and “Glorious You” to name but a few. The latter is my gig buddy for the nights favourite, good choice Rachel!). But the older classics hold even more power and emotion especially three of my favourites; “Photosynthesis”, “I Believe” and the one that always brings a tear to my eye (and yes it did that night), “Long Live The Queen”.

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There was the obligatory circle pit, at my age I am sad to say that I sidestepped that. Crowd-surfing, with a particularly excellent performance by Frank’s friend Steve during “If I Ever Stray” and from Frank himself towards the end of the night. There was a repeat of the stupendous wall of hugs as opposed to the wall of death and yes I do believe that everyone hugged a stranger, I certainly did. Frank gave a big shout out to some causes close to his heart, notably Safe Gigs For Women. His sentiments are the same as mine on that one, like why the fuck should we need an organisation like that in 2016? I don’t know why, but it is wonderful that they do exist. All of this adds to the feel of a Frank Turner crowd being a real community.

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At one point Mr Turner played an electric guitar and not one of his familiar acoustics. He said that whenever he did he felt the urge to play a riff and boy did he riff well. I recognised it but can’t quite place it, I reckon it sounded a little Satrianiesque. The Sleeping Souls as y=usual were on top form too; Ben Lloyd (Guitar and mandolin), Tarrant Anderson (bass), Matt Nasir (Keyboards) and Nigel Powell on drums. The talented support acts also made an appearance in Frank’s set. Felix Hagan came on to play the harmonica break on “I Still Believe” and Esmé Patterson sang the Christa McAuliffe lines in “Silent Key”. That song gets better every time that I hear it.

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Finally there was the usual who is the best crowd on the tour competition and up to Leeds it was bizarrely Reading the night before who had been best. Did we beat them, well obviously we did. But on top of that the usual chant of “Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire” accompanied by fist pumping was changed somewhat when Frank had us all replace the fist pumping with jazz hands and of course we all did just that. It was possibly one of the strangest things that I have ever seen at a gig, but very bloody funny too. I don’t know quite how many gigs that I have been to, probably not as many as Frank has played (this was his 1,988th show) but as I said earlier this is the greatest gig I have ever seen. Thank you Mr Turner!

Public Service announcement: All the pictures are via Google searches, no way was I going to take any with my phone and spoil this magnificent gig and the same goes for the videos which are all from YouTube.

 

Leeds Festival 2016 Day 2 – Saturday 27th August August 31, 2016


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Waiting for Frank Turner

There was absolutely no way that I was going to miss todays opener, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. This will be, I think, the eighth time I have seen Mr Turner and he has always been better than great. So my car share with rock photographer extraordinaire, John Hayhurst got us there in plenty of time. I was lined up near the front of the Main Stage by 11:30 with Frank not due to start until 12:00. Frank and the Sleeping Souls hit the stage running and never stopped for close to an hour. It was yet another truly awesome set from Mr Turner. We were served up loads of hits and a mental, passionate and highly energetic band with a very ‘up for it’ Frank Turner. Myself and the rest of the audience were truly ‘up for it’ as well. Frank got the crowd to separate and form what at a thrash metal gig would be a wall of death. However he set it up as a wall of hugs, that was just one of many great moments along with Frank continuing to sing while crowd surfing. This was an absolute stormer of a start to the day and the smile remained on my face for the rest of the day in spite of the weather. In fact we later learned that Frank was so full on that he had to be taken to hospital with a suspected broken foot!

Next it was the Jack Rocks Stage where I caught Blinders from Doncaster. They play swampy, punky, psyched-out blues rock. What a brilliant noise! After that brief sojourn it was back to the Main Stage for the second Frank of the day; Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. I have seen Frank Carter a couple of times in the past when he was fronting Gallows, but until today I had never seen the Rattlesnakes. This was an epic punk performance and it was also Frank’s first time on the Main Stage at Leeds/ Reading too. He had the crowd create a huge circle pit and then he proceeded to sing from the centre of it, that takes balls! Mr Carter’s crowd surfing was among the best artist crowd surfing I have ever seen. As for “I Hate You”, well that is just a totally knock-out song.

My first visit of the day to the NME/ Radio 1 tent was for Hinds all the way from Spain. They have some similarities with perhaps, Haim. Their songs are fabulous, bouncy, earworms of pop tunes in a kind of happy, smiley indie style. It is great to see an all girl band performing here though. There is certainly not enough female representation on the stages at this festival. Is that due to the general lack of imagination and forethought in the music industry? I reckon it probably is.

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My first visit to the comedy in the Alternative Stage tent was for the highly intelligent and highly talented Shappi Khorsandi, She was hilarious on topics as diverse and wide-ranging as religion, racism, sexism and porn addiction. She was followed by Sarah Pascoe who was very funny indeed, especially her spiel on pubic hair.

Eat Fast from Newcastle were next on the BBC Introducing Stage. They captivated those of us in the crowd with their Geordie indie pop harmonies. Great songs from a great band. In my quest to get around most stages today I found myself in the Pit next for Citizen. They are an American band that use the quiet- loud style of the Pixies and Nirvana really well with vocals going from a soft croon to a throat shredding scream. The band clearly have a very strong UK fan base given the audience reaction and participation. Many fans proved their love of the band by crowd surfing (I counted maybe ten) into the arms of those unsung heroes of festivals, the security team.

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I stayed in the Pit for the next band, Dinosaur Pile Up. Not only is that a great name, they are an excellent band too. They are a band that has been with us nearly ten years and they will be around for a very long while. I’m not even sure that an extinction level event motherfucker of an asteroid that rear ended our little planet would finish off Dinosaur Pile Up. Next I trudged through the ankle-deep mud to the Festival Republic Stage for Lewis Del Mar (incidentally there is no one called Lewis in this band). But whatever the band members are called they certainly sound good. It is a dubby, trip hop sound with the exuberance and upbeatness of say Vampire Weekend. This is a really tight New York band and at times they made me think of a 21st Century Shuggie Otis.

I was back at the Jack Rocks stage at 6 o’clock for a recommendation from my good friend and top rock photographer John Hayhurst. The band is one that John had seen at the Kendal Calling Festival earlier this year. Their name is Cabbage, they are anarchic, chaotic, funny and very talented. They pretty much defy being put into a genre. However think of the bastard sons of a threesome between the Stooges, Half Man Half Biscuit and Goldie Looking Chain. Cabbage are an exceptional British band that has to be seen to be believed. Their Dinner Lady song is an absolute scream.

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It was at this point that the heavens opened and it rained for a couple of hours on an already muddy field. I put out a call for Ark builders on Facebook, but sadly no one responded. It was at this point while walking from the Jack Rocks stage to the NME/ Radio 1 stage that I decided that I needed an ice cream. so I bought myself a Magnum classic. Nothing particularly interesting about that, until three young lads saw me and claimed that an old bloke eating an ice cream whilst ankle-deep in mud in the pouring rain was the most rock n roll thing that they had ever seen. I can only assume that they were on drugs of some kind 🙂 Anyway I made it to the NME/ Radio 1 stage in time for Crystal Castles. They did not disappoint with a high-powered show featuring bombastic noisy dance sounds done in that very unique Crystal Castles style. It was an incredible show, the lights deserve a mention too, they were stunning

I was not going to miss the next band on the NME/ Radio 1 stage, the magnificent Twenty One Pilots from Ohio. It was a truly splendiferous set from the duo. Brilliant songs and amazing stage presence. How the hell do two people make so much marvellous noise? We were treated to a brief cover of “Jump Around”, acrobatics, drumming while crowd surfing, just crowd surfing and a giant hamster ball.These guys need the Main Stage as a next step for them at Leeds/ Reading. I feel very confident that they will headline this festival one day too.

I was in the Festival Republic tent next for the final song from Pulled Apart By Horses. I have seen them before and they are a band that really know how to flex their well toned rock muscles. Disclosure closed proceedings on the Main Stage. Yes Disclosure, on the Main Stage. Seriously? They’re very good but mot that good. It is not much more than a DJ show after all. I know that they supposed ly co-headlined with Foals. But that co-headlining thing is bollocks, right? In my opinion Foals should have closed the evening. I left Disclosure’s set early because I was a bit bored. But that is my opinion and clearly dance music is becoming more and more popular at this festival.

As my festival car share buddy John Hayhurst was there to take his usual selection of excellent photographs we agreed to meet up at the end of the evening at the BBC Introducing Stage. Incidentally if you do need to meet up with your friends at the end of the day that is the place to be as it is usually empty. Anyway we duly met and as we were waiting for Laura, one of John’s photographer colleagues we were accosted by two blonde 18 year old festival goers, one of them was called Freya and she kept insisting that she had a real thing for older men (John and I are both in our fifties). She kept on insisting that we went back to their tent for some ‘fun’. Personally I reckon she must have been on some pretty strong drugs or that we were being lined up for some kind of sting or robbery. Anyway we eventually persuaded Freya and her friend to head off and enjoy the rest of the night without us. I reckon we dodged a big bullet there!

 

 
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