Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls


“This is a punk rock show, which means that there are no rules. Except for don’t be an arsehole and if you know the words to a song, you’ve got to fucking sing along!”

The somewhat heartfelt speech from the matured punk rocker Frank Turner gives a taste of what to expect in terms of tonight’s theatrical showcase of a decorated catalogue of tracks, old and new.

The night begins with an ominous monotone voice announcing, “You are going on a musical trip, so hold on, and let’s rock!”. Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls burst out onto stage with flames climbing high into the air. The night is kicked off with ‘Out of Breath’, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this one, but if you’ve not heard this track, it’s a frantic, hyperactive kid that’s had too many sugary sweets, it’s an explosive, messy, good ol’ rock song. Frank Turner is bouncing around the stage like a wound-up toy, a kangaroo on a pogo stick, bass player swinging his guitar like an axe. Tonight, Victoria Warehouse is the battle ground, and Manchester punk and rock fans are forming a one-night army.

This was show 2301 for the genre’s veteran and with him declaring his appreciation to his fans for allowing this dream of his to continue for yet another year, album and tour, this somewhat feels like a massive celebration. The setlist is filled with surprises and events, and quite often, the largely spacious playing ground of a stage wasn’t quite big enough for the hyperactive Turner, with the barrier being hurdled on many occasions.

In his case of having many songs targeting difficult and topical issues, humour is always an important element. When introducing the track ‘Brave Face’, Frank admits that, although he feels the gospel choir’s role in the song is vital, “it costs a shit tonne of money to take them all on tour, but luckily tonight, Manchester Gospel Choir, we have you”.

If you’ve heard Frank Turner’s ‘Four Simple Words’, you’ll know that he’s no good at dancing, his way around this was to call out a member of the audience. “We have a special guest with us tonight, Benny? Benny get the fuck up here on stage!”. Catching Frank Turner’s attention by making a dance tutorial video to the next track, Benny became the backing dancer at a Frank Turner show.

All is going great; the crowd chanting his name, a beat not missed, and a move not forgotten…until the last thirty seconds. The devastatingly cringeworthy ‘floss’ and ‘dab’ dance moves that have dominated this last year of the dancefloor are all that poor old Benny can improvise, you fucked it Benny!

The night changes down a gear as the Sleeping Souls leave Frank to perform a solo set, dedicating ‘Back to Sleep’ to his sister who is in the crowd tonight, playing a new single that he had released only a few hours ago and a heart-wrenching performance of tracks ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’ and ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’. Turner’s originally white shirt is now soaked through with sweat.

The Sleeping Souls return to stage as they and Frank Turner continue to put on this epic display of emotion and passion, bringing every song to life.

A very quick interval between the ‘end of the show’ and the encore gives everyone very little chance to catch their breath. The conclusive part of the night starts with ‘Be More Kind’ as Frank delivers his tradition message that he is determined to deliver.

“Every person that you disagree with is still a human being, and if we forget that, then we are heading for a very fucked up place.”

The audience transform into a sea of torches, spotlighting the optimistic, motivating end message to the night, before parting like the sea of Moses at Turner’s command. “Back it up, make a clear path!” Turner takes a random girl’s hand in the crowd, before ballroom dancing with her to tonight’s conclusive track, ‘Four Simple Words’. Once he has used up all 30 seconds of his ballroom dancing knowledge, Turner does the best thing he knows how, crowd surfing back to stage and letting his passion drag him around stage. Flames reach out for the ceiling as confetti bursts out from the sky, a dramatic conclusion to an incredible night.

Catching a Frank Turner show is the joy of reliving your favourite film, re-reading your most desired book, and if you’ve not had the blessing of this experience yet, it’s fair to say you’ll have a few more chances to catch Frank and his Sleeping Souls on tour. But who else to put it into words brilliantly than the man himself in the track ‘The Road’.

“And the nights, a thousand nights I’ve played, a thousand more to go,
Before I take my breath and steel myself for the next one thousand shows.”

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