Frank Turner


Scrolling through tweets when I get home from the bang that was the Big Issue North Street Noise, I find a post that sums it up perfectly. The body of the tweet said something like “Yeah a quiet acoustic Frank Turner gig, that’ll be nice and chill.” Embedded in the post, a video of the aforementioned Frank crowd surfing and screaming into the mic. Oooooh the irony. Amazing.

Speaking of lines that sum the important evening up, Frank Turner set the mood with just a few words quite early on: “If we can get together to sing dark songs in dark rooms we can get together to help people out”.

The Big Issue North Street Noise event, hosted by Clint Boon, sees local lads Our Fold open with a wall of noise in great indie fashion, with everyone quickly reminded that we’re here supporting an important cause – homelessness in Manchester is an issue that local authorities and police work extremely hard at every single day, but it’s still a very real issue.

Next up, Felix Hagan & The Family bring the lightheartedness and fun that sometimes helps make an evening more poignant. A explosion of glitter and fur, the whine of the keyboard on their best known songs soon gets the crowd bouncing, sweaty and grinning from ear to ear like only Rocky Horror Picture Show irony can.

The surrealism and pure extremes Felix and his band jump to really set the tone, so when Frank Turner comes on stage it feels even quieter and the audience waits almost with bated breath for his first note.

With no introduction other than a quick “hello”, Frank brings it right back to current issues and the politics of the evening with new track ‘Be More Kind’’ – in a world where everyone’s talking about hate, the line “be more kind my friends, try to be more kind” is especially poignant.

The former Million Dead singer works his way through anthems from Tape Deck Heart (I think he sings one verse and a chorus from ‘The Way I Tend To Be’ and then the audience takes over) and Positive Songs For Negative People (‘The Opening Act of Spring’ brings his folk punk vibe out).

The evening, up until the encores, is littered with small reminders of the issues we’re here to help fight and bits of banter – following his stint with Blink 182 over the summer, Frank is clearly at home in front of a welcoming Northern crowd such as this. He’s got a glint in his eye you can see from across the room when he talks about “where I’m from, London is up North”, before holding his head in his hands, joking that he’s lost the crowd now. He even tells us a sweet story about his beloved Gran turning down a Nazi soldier and the crowd laps it up.

Throughout the hour and a half Frank often moves from one song straight to another and keeps things moving. ‘I Am Disappeared’ from 2011 hints at much darker times and ‘The Road’ from even further back in 2009 shows that one man, his guitar and a spotlight never gets old.

Frank genuinely writes songs that people connect with. I know that sounds daft, as surely all musicians do, but you can almost see people transported to another place as they sing along – their mum and dad’s house, their ex’s bed, an abandoned road. You can genuinely see them going somewhere else..

Every so often his punk rock takes over and his screamo surfaces, ‘Get Better’ is the perfect example right before he takes a breather, and he returns with Felix and the band.

Then they come back. And they sing Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and Green Day’s ‘Basket Case’ and it’s genuinely nuts, and you remember that Frank hasn’t always been a man with an acoustic but a full on metal-head, and you love him even more. He finishes off with ‘I Want To Dance’, crowd surfing the masses, sometimes literally swimming on top of people front crawl style, ending up a sweaty mess on the stage.

Not before a quick reminder about why we’re there, a plea to buy a t-shirt because money made from those goes to The Big Issue North too, Frank is off stage as quickly and quietly as he arrived, leaving shiny faces and goofy grins behind. Cheers man.

Frank Turner: Official | Facebook | Twitter