The event is eagerly anticipated. The arena is packed with die-hard fans of all ages. The scene is set for Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls’ largest UK gig to date. The location? The O2 arena in London. The support acts? Beans On Toast and Flogging Molly.
I wasn’t quite prepared for the support acts. I didn’t know who they were and I hadn’t researched them at all. But when they were on stage it was easy to see why they had been chosen. Beans On Toast, a solo artist who you could loosely attribute as a folk singer who sang about sex, drugs and politics. Soulful and witty I was torn between dancing and laughing. With a new album out Giving Everything I can honestly say I think this man will go far, but perhaps it’s just case of when? Tell me, do you fancy a bit of Beans on Toast?
Flogging Molly on the other hand was the big shock of the two support acts. Outside the merchandise had displayed snakes and denoted what I thought would be quite an aggressive pseudo-rock act. Instead what I discovered was a tongue in cheek witty rock, -irish-folk band that was made up of 7 people! Within this they formed quite an eclectic bunch even including an accordion and violinist who also double up on a recorder. I can honestly say I was hooked.
But finally the main event arrived. There was no telling how long each member of the audience had waited to see Frank Turner & The Sleeping souls live, whether they’d seen him live countless times of whether like me after years of adoration they’d finally managed to get hold of tickets to a show. The banner was revealed with a flourish and there they were, Frank Turner and his band. Having started out gigging in 2004 this beloved “Wessex Boy” has come a long way and with the opening chords of ‘Photosynthesis‘ he began.
The community that makes up Frank Turner’s fans is not only eclectic but electric. Never have I seen a crowd so insync with the band. Everyone sang along, every member of the packed audience knew the songs word for word and even the members in seating stand, swayed, danced and sang. Heck Turner even had us doing jumping jacks. It’s Turner’s original mix of Folk-Punk that seems to bring such an amazing audience together all singing along to new and old tunes such as ‘Losing Days‘ and ‘Long Live the Queen‘.
This was Turner’s biggest live show to date “I didn’t really write these songs to be played in a room this size and shape,” he admitted, gently mocking a venue that more usually plays host to pop sensations and big rock bands. “I wrote them to play in bedrooms and bars. But we’re here because this many people wanted to see the band. It’s not about the room. It’s about us.” That was the message that came through in his songs, loud and clear, over and over again: we’re all in it together. And it is impossible not to fall in love with him and his band and to genuinely feel that in that moment in that setting you were part of something bigger.
Turner is one of British Music’s secret but beloved stars. Not always at the top of the charts of even totally well-known and yet you would be hard-strapped to find a more communal gig with more loyal fans.
For more Gigs for Frank Turner & The Sleeping souls see: http://frank-turner.com/live-gigs/