For a second, there wasn’t going to be any Frank Turner at the Forum review tonight. Due to a bit of a ‘your name’s not on the list, you’re not coming in’ fiasco, there was a real possibility that I would have been reminiscing about previous Frank Turner performances that I’ve been to and talking about the ominously named ‘Murder Barn’ playing at the Bull & Gate pub just down the road.
After my initial run in with the door staff, I explored the local area of Kentish Town sought out the nearest free cashpoint (Sainsbury’s Local) and found the aforementioned pub to be very accommodating, housing many FT fans, serving Grolsch at £3,60 a pint and showing the prestigious Europa League semi-finals. Although it was previously thought that it was scientifically impossible to play football on a Thursday night, Chelsea led Basle 1-0 at half time through a bundled Victor Moses goal in a half low on quality and abundant in misplaced passes. Anyway, I digress…
Eventually, my charm/dogged persistence allowed me in to the venue just in time for the start. I have no idea who or what the support acts were like. They could have been a BeeGees tribute act and the answer to the hole solely left by JLS for all I know, but there was a good buzz of expectation amongst the crowd for this (very hi-tech) YouTube televised gig.
Now, I’ve been a fan of Frank Turner from the start, ever since me and my fellow university radio DJ (Mike Abraham – hello, congratulations on the engagement) interviewed him in 2007 and asked Frank to sign a toilet roll for Mikey’s girlfriend. From that pivotal moment, Frank Turner has gone on to conquer the folk/punk genre, releasing five albums, the latest of which – ‘Tape Deck Heart’ – is currently embroiled in an album chart battle with crooner Michael Buble and talentless clown Will.I.Am. He’s played Wembley and even the Olympic Opening Ceremony, yet still seems relatively non-mainstream and still treasured by fans young and old, churning out good old fashioned, meaningful rock’n’roll.
Kicking off with the relatively new song ‘Four Simple Words’, where he expresses his despise of “lacklustre scenesters from Shoreditch”, Frank Turner and his Oxford based backing band The Sleeping Souls launch into frantic opening which also includes fan favourites such as ‘The Road’ and ‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’. As is accustom by now, the crowd sing every word back to Frank throughout and a mosh pit is soon established, prominently by a 20 stone topless lad wearing heavy green eye shadow. Each to their own…
‘Plain Sailing Weather’ and ‘Polaroid Picture’ are the main tracks taken from the new album, which may give an indication of future single releases, while ‘A Decent Cup of Tea’ and ‘Ballad of Me and My Friends’ sort the old fans from the Johnny Come Lately’s in terms of the solo acoustic sing-alongs.
The fan base for Frank Turner is not particularly ‘cool’ or trendy, but enthusiastic and devoted, as demonstrated by the collective effort to take a flag with the new album’s artwork all across the country (starting in Glasgow and finishing tonight London) through co-operation of fans on Twitter and various forums.
Arguably his most well-known hit ‘Long Live The Queen’ is still belted out with the passion it was originally written with, and the expected mass sit down for the breakdown of ‘Photosynthesis’ brings in the encore of ‘I Knew Prufrock’ and ‘I Still Believe’ to finish the evening.
Thereby, Frank Turner continues to march onwards to cult status, and in my humble opinion, I don’t think it’s too much to put him on a pedestal as the ‘English Bob Dylan’. His songs are instantly catchy and reflect a wide range of scenarios and emotions. This was gig number 1378 since 2005 (running total can be found on his website) and you will rarely find such a hard-working artist that unites people in a room so comprehensively.
He’s come a long way since signing bog rolls for Portsmouth University DJ’s, and if you haven’t seen him yet, you’d do no worse than to see him next time he’s in your town. A brilliant evening’s entertainment.