HOMETOWN HERO FRANK TURNER RETURNS TO THE SOUTH COAST TO PERFORM TWO SOLD OUT SHOWS AT SOUTHAMPTON’S O2 GUILDHALL.
EDITED BY ZAHNA EKLUND
It is clear from the excitement and the buzzing atmosphere that fills the Southampton Guildhall this Friday evening that the venue is filled with hardcore Frank Turner fans. The Hampshire born-and-raised folk-punk artist is on the second night of his UK tour with his 6th album, Positive Songs for Negative People and the excitement on the faces of these devoted followers is clear. The crowd is a variety of ages, ranging from students to middle-aged couples and friends, indulging in their love for Frank’s unique folk-punk sounds. Preceding his hugely-anticipated performance are the two support acts following him throughout his tour, Will Varing and Skinny Lister; a solo act and a band both oozing folk galore. The support acts work well in building up the atmosphere with the audience, pumping everyone up for the main headline act but despite impressive the impressive folk riffs and melodies, it was clear that everyone in the booming crowd was waiting for the sweet sounds of one man and one man only.
The moments leading up to the big headlining act are tense, with the crowd exchanging nervous chatter and glances. When Frank finally takes centre stage, he is a bounding statue of nervous energy. Accompanied by an amazing array of musicians named The Sleeping Souls, Frank opens with one of his new album’s most popular and energetic songs Get Better. The impressive word-for-word singing along taken part by the majority of those watching suggests hardcore knowledge and dedication to Frank from his fans. The autobiographic nature of his songs allows the listeners to really connect with the artist and feel that they know him. His friendly manner and ‘banterous’ conversation with the audience bodes well and it is clear the crowd are in love. The amazing standard of musical skill and emotion that Frank expels is rare and it is obvious that Frank Turner is definitely one of those artists that you should see live and not just listen to through your record speakers.
The performance continues with an impressive selection of old, new and (quoting Frank here) “mid-period” songs. There is no lull that so often accompanies longer sets where the crowd may zone out, as for the full two hours, the gaggle of fans remain transfixed. Mid set, the band leave Frank to play solo, and we are shown the more serious, vulnerable (but still immensely talented) side to Frank. These songs reveal glimpses to the dark experiences that he has encountered, and the lyrics ring honest. They’re sarcastic, taking the gentle mick out of society whilst still maintaining that constant level of cheekiness.
The band merrily return to stage again for the last twenty minutes of the set, and the energy of the room booms with Mr Turner and his accomplices ensuring that the entire audience are dancing, singing, jumping and having a good time. The set finishes with a triumphant rendition of The Next Storm, first single from Positive Songs For Negative People, but leaves the crowd in a knowing suspense of an encore as there are still some major tunes that haven’t been played. Loyal to his fans, after a brief pause the band returns and four more songs are played. The energy of the whole room is wild and Frank continues to woo and please his massive array of devotees.
With Frank playing at the same venue the following evening, it was not a surprise to find out that a large proportion of the crowd had tickets for both shows. For any folk fans, Frank’s new album is a must, and don’t be surprised if you end up falling in love with him, like the masses that occupied Southampton’s popular music venue with sold-out shows both Friday and Saturday.
Frank Turner‘s newest album, Positive Songs For Negative People, is out now