Frank Turner recently released a brand new album, ‘Positive Songs for Negative People’, and so all last week he played gigs up and down the country to… well, Frank never really seems to need a reason to play a gig.
The show was in New Slang in Kingston, a small night club lit up with neon lights and spread across several levels. Ben and I had to travel for what felt like hours (and walk and run across London during a tube strike) but we got there in time to grab spots near the front, make a couple of trips to the bar, and listen to both support acts.
Frank always picks good supports (Beans on Toast supported him in 2009 in Winchester and Jay and I have been practically best buddies ever since…) and I feel like the crowd who buy tickets for his gigs normally have pretty open ears to cool new music. We get to hear new musicians, and the musicians get to play to a crowd who will cheer enthusiastically and clap and sing along with the best of them even if we have no idea what’s going on.
Chas Palmer-Williams sang a song about a payphone, PJ Bond killed us with his incredible accent and beautiful lyrics, and then it was time for Frank. The lights went down, but instead of fancy light effects or a smoke machine or any of that stuff, the Sleeping Souls (Frank’s band) walked on to the stage and started playing a drum beat, real slow, until everybody was screaming and clapping and shouting and then Frank walked out in his trademark white shirt with his guitar and opened up with the first chords of The Next Storm.
I know it sounds kinda stupid, and I’ve written about it before, but I will never get over how happy it makes me to listen to live music. Especially Frank live. Because he is so freaking good. There are a couple of songs, especially from his new album, where all you want to do is dance and sing along. So that’s what we did. He played a few new songs and loads of old classics (every time he played the first chords of a new song we got excited that he was playing that song), and I just had such a sick time dancing and going a little bit crazy in the tiny venue that was literally full to the rafters.
Near the end, he played Photosynthesis, and as the first few notes rang out he shouted ‘You know what to do!!” We did, and in the tradition of this song, everybody in the audience crouched down as low as they could (and do you have any idea how hard that is to do when you are packed in so tightly that you don’t even have room to turn around?!) while he played, slowly, through the first verse, smiling all over his face at all of us crouched down while he sang, until finally, ‘But that doesn’t mean I’m settled up and sitting out the game // Time may change a lot but some things may stay the same’ and we all leapt to our feet, somehow, to sing ‘And I won’t sit down // And I won’t shut up // And most of all I. will. not. grow. up!’
He played my favourite song right at the end (I want to dance), and Ben lifted me onto his shoulders so I could get a good view (we were near the middle so most of the time I was on my tiptoes just trying to see the top of Frank’s head) and as he did so, Frank dived into the crowd, mic in hand, his security staff frantically trying to stop the mic lead from getting wrapped around anybody’s neck, and crowd surfed to the other side of the stage. Not bad for a Thursday night.
As he reached the barrier to the right of the stage, his security guard (who must be seriously sick of his antics) pulled him over the railing, and then Frank lent back into the crowd, taking advantage of the many lifted hands to support himself as he balanced his way along back to the stage.
I’m not sure if I’m narrating this in an overly dramatic way or not, but it was such a good night, it’s actually really hard for me to describe. Frank’s new (and old) stuff is amazing and even better live – and I seriously recommend checking it out if you haven’t already!
Here’s a few of my favourites from Kingston –
and (much better quality) maybe my favourite song from the new album –
Photos above – From Frank’s Instagram account