After an emotive show in Newcastle the previous night which followed the tragic news of the death of his friend in the Paris terrorist attacks on Friday, November 13, I wondered what mood Frank would be in. But rather than wallow in sorrow, he played a two-hour set that stuck two fingers up to IS. He could’ve cancelled his two shows in Nottingham and everyone would’ve understood. But that would be letting the terrorists win. And Frank is no loser.
Date: November 15, 2015
Venue: Rock City
Proudly declared on Rock City’s Twitter biography is a little line that reads: ‘Frank Turner’s No. 1 independent venue’. And Frank admits it himself, loudly and profanely, during the gig, that this is indeed true. Lucky for him – and his adoring fans, then – that he’s playing two consecutive nights here.
Frank talks about his memories and adoration of this venue throughout the gig, plucking out recollections and his love affair with the place.
Frank’s amiable character and friendliness is palpable. He’s a conductor; a gentleman; a Demi-God of folk-punk.
He and his band The Sleeping Souls begin with two defiant rallying cries: Get Better, with its shout of “We can do better cus we’re not dead yet”, and the superb If I Stray. It’s a hell of a start.
Not that there’s any let up in the energy. Not just yet anyway. By Losing Days, a bone-shaking folk-rock stomp just three tracks in, his crisp white shirt is beginning to moisten with perspiration.
It’s striking just how loud his fans bellow the lyrics to almost every song, matching Frank’s rasping vocals word for word. His aren’t dumb lyrics either; each song is a story told via electrified folk, blues, punk and ballsy rock.
Halfway through the set, his band leave him alone with just his acoustic guitar and his fables. It’s testament to the man that even when he culls his boundless, enigmatic stage antics, the atmosphere remains scintillating. He holds Rock City in the palm of his hand.
When his band return for Photosynthesis, he gets the whole of Rock City to sit down as the song’s mantra kicks in. “I won’t sit down and I won’t shut up”, he howls, and strategically uses this time to rant about his feelings on the Paris terrorism attacks on Friday, an emotive topic for him considering his friend died in the catastrophe.
Organised pandemonium then erupts as everyone jumps up upon his command.
It’s followed, rather aptly, by Glory Hallelujah, with its somewhat blasphemous chorus of “There is no God, no heaven and or hell”. Despite the anti-religious connotations, Rock City bounces in unison.
Two hours after he began, I Still Believe and the theatrical Four Simple Words bring the set to a climactic close.
Turner has united people tonight, despite tragedies, despite lost friends and despite the deep-rooted anger within him, Turner is the crème de la crème.