It’s been a busy year for tireless troubadour Frank Turner. With promotion tours for 2009’s Poetry of the Deed, an American tour and countless more dates, including standout performances at this years’ Reading and Leeds festivals, the man’s got to be tiring. But as he himself would say, Sleep is for the Week and here he is, new EP just out and on the last date of his winter UK tour.
Support tonight comes in the form of Oxford band Dive Dive and solo singer Ed Harcourt. Sadly, due to the glories of public transport, IF misses the former, only arriving to hear the most haunting yet catchilly uplifting Ed Harcourt beginning his set. Having never seen him before, you get a treat of one man with an array of instruments and technologies. Harcourt’s folk rock resounds wonderfully around this venue. Heart of a Wolf is by far a standout of the set.
It’s time for tonight’s headliner. From the roots of his solo career to new EP Rock and Roll, he’s picked well from a fantastic collection. Tonight’s crowd varies from punks in their thirties to both those pushing for a bus pass and girls just old enough to understand the term “student protest” everyone seems to be here for different reasons, but share the same motive; to have a good time. Turner’s in great form tonight. “If you all sing along it might make my mum think that I have a real job” he says before bursting into Try This At Home. I Still Believe features a quickly learnt sing-along of “Who’d have thought, that after all, something as simple as Rock and Roll would save us all?” Whilst also providing a shout-along “I still believe” which, at a capacity 5,000 show, sounds well placed.
Giving live debut to The English Curse and even fitting in a Springsteen’s classic Thunder Road, Turner makes the most of his bold surroundings. “It’s nights like this that makes the last 5 years worth it” he tells the assembled faithful. The chemistry between man and band is fantastic to see, with all in good spirits and looking more like comrades than subjects tracks like Love Ire and Song’s Long Live the Queen and Reasons not to be an Idiot are as emotive as they are powerful, whilst set closer The Road is simply roaring with passion from the travelling artists and crowd alike. The Ballad of Me and My Friends is a common listen in a Frank Turner show. There’s something about ending a night with the phrase “I’m definitely going to hell, but I’ll have all the best stories to tell,” that’s eerily brilliant and Photosynthesis closes the night on a high. He’s worked his way up, but the last 5 years have all been worth it at nights like this.