It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since former Million Dead frontman Frank Turner picked up that acoustic guitar and decided to try making music solo. Few would have thought that he’d still be doing it 10 years later and that he’d be playing a sold out show at Glasgow’s famous Barrowland Ballroom! The man’s clearly come a long way since playing in the cellar below the 13th Note when he first came to play solo in Glasgow.
First up was Kent singer Will Varley, at the start of his set the large room was rather empty but it began to slowly fill up throughout his humorous set which included a mock Glaswegian accent (along with the plea which followed not to stab him for it!) and some hilarious lyrics involving drunk cats and David Cameron’s mother telling him off for fucking up the country.
By the time South London Folk Punkers Skinny Lister took to the stage the venue was much fuller as they treated the crowd to some great dancey numbers and even a crowd surfing Double Bassist with the huge instrument still in hand! Although at first the crowd were a bit tepid to join in, many were clapping and bouncing along by the end of their short set. The bands live enthusiasm is clearly very infectious.
And then it was time for Frank Turner and his backing band The Sleeping Souls. This set was notable for a few reasons, firstly it’s clear that the lyrics from his new record ‘Positive Songs for Negative People‘ have already been learned by the bulk of the crowd, new tracks such as ‘Get Better’ & ‘Josephine’ were sang back by the crowd every but as loudly as old favourite ‘Long Live The Queen’. Additionally it’s clear how far Frank has come musically over his career from tonight’s set. The contrast in sounds and influences across tonight’s setlist was very impressive, from new song ‘Out Of Breath‘ which sounds like a 50s rock & roll dancefloor tune, to the folk anthem ‘I Still Believe’ to crunching riff filled ‘One Foot Before The Other’ which is among the heaviest tracks in Frank’s vast back catalogue. Its clear Turner’s music has evolved a lot since the early days where it was just him and an acoustic guitar and credit for this really belongs to The Sleeping Souls who prove themselves to be among the most dynamic and talented bands in British alternative music.
Although tonight can be seen as an example of how far Frank Turner has come from his days of strumming his acoustic guitar solo in sweaty rooms above pubs there is still an excellent portion during the middle of his set where The Sleeping Souls leave the stage and Frank performs a number of older and rare songs on his own, old favourite ‘The Ballad Of Me and My Friends’ sounds every bit as wonderful with 2100 people sing along as it did with 30 people back in those tiny venues all those years ago.
Tonight’s set was one of the longest Frank Turner has done on a headline tour and was a perfect showcase of how much great music the guys given us over the last decade and how he’s managed to keep doing that without ever being afraid to try new things with his music. Though the style might change, the D.I.Y. attitude and genuine honesty of his music has remained and that’s why so many have stuck with the guy and why still so many new fans will show up to his gigs. Fingers crossed we have another 10 years of music and excellent live shows to come. Viva Frank Turner!
Cameron Law – @Deadend_Friend