A surprisingly large crowd has already gathered
by the time the first support slopes onto the
stage. The fantastically named ‘Beans On
Toast’ is one man and his (badly tuned)
guitar; a less polished, but no less charming
version of Frank himself. To call his style relaxed
would be a huge understatement; he chats with
the crowd, welcomes hecklers, and gladly takes
various suggestions of on-stage gymnastics, treating
us to cartwheels and handstands between songs.
He makes up his set list as he goes, and frequently
interrupts his songs to start again or change
key, but it’s a joy to watch. The simplicity
and innocence of his songs is charming, and the
lyrics hilarious and at times profound.
Next up, Fake Problems, a Floridian indie-punk
band, seem an unusual choice to support Frank.
Their image doesn’t quite match their style,
but what they might lack in consistency, they
make up in enthusiasm. They seem impossibly young
and sickeningly talented. Vocalist Chris Farren
is particularly charismatic, and his energy seems
boundless as he jumps about the stage, thrashing
his guitar and singing wildly. It’s always
fun to see a band who so clearly love what they
do, and relish every second of their performance,
and I think theirs is a name you’ll be hearing
more of very soon.
After a long wait, and with the crowd growing
impatient, Frank finally takes to the stage. Last
time I saw Frank, back in February, he was a supporting
act, playing to a handful of revellers, with only
his acoustic guitar for company. He blew me away
then, and tonight, with a full band to support
him, his act has taken a spectacular step up.
His return to success since his Million Dead years
is long overdue, but he takes his growing popularity
humbly and unpretentiously.
He starts the set with some new tracks, ‘Live
Fast, Die Old’ and ‘The Road’,
before taking on a punk version of what is probably
his most famous song, ‘Long Live The Queen’.
Although it’s faster and more aggressive,
it doesn’t lose its poignancy and raw emotion.
While his band accompanies him brilliantly on
the faster tempo songs, there is a nice scattering
of ballads thrown in, and an opportunity to see
the ‘one man and his guitar’ setup
that shows his talent at its most raw and true.
In between songs, he engages in friendly banter
with the crowd. He seems genuinely amazed at his
own popularity and thanks us all for coming, before
inviting a girl on stage to play harmonica, who
turns out to be unusually talented at doing so.
He ends the night with a couple of old favourites,
‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’ and ‘Photosynthesis’,
during which he invites both support acts to join
him on stage. It’s a fittingly entertaining
and sociable end to the evening
Beans On Toast – 4/5
Fake Problems – 4/5
Frank Turner – 5/5
Review By Helen Williams