Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls
Support: Beans On Toast and Flogging Molly
Venue and Date: Plymouth Pavilions, 11th February 2014
Plain Sailing Weather
Peggy Sang the Blues
Try This at Home
Reasons Not to Be an Idiot
The Way I Tend to Be
Sweet Albion Blues
To Take You Home
If Ever I Stray
I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
One Foot Before the Other
Long Live the Queen
The Ballad of Me and My Friends
I Still Believe
Four Simple Words
Before I delve into this fantastic live show, I’ll start by saying that this was meant to be my 2nd gig of 2014, most definitely not my first! I was due to see A Day To Remember last Saturday (8th February) in Cardiff but my car was plagued with issues on the day, thus meaning my travel plans were severely disrupted. Although a stroke of luck (for me) came about as singer Jeremy was taken ill with a throat infection, leading to the gigs cancellation. Still waiting to hear on a rescheduled date, hopefully it won’t be on a weekday as the 2-3 hour won’t sit nicely with my work. Anyhow, back to Frank Turner’s triumphant gig at Plymouth Pavilions.
Starting off with the venue itself, it’s a place I’ve been to many times before. We begin way back in 2006 with Lostprophets, who back then were at the top of their game…its just a shame their legacy is now ruined. Ever since then I’ve seen various different artists, some on more occasions than once (Enter Shikari springs to mind, 2007, 2009 and 2012!). The Pavilions has had its fair share of comments over the years, both bad and good, especially when it comes to their sound acoustics. Thankfully though those days are long gone and it’s been years since I’ve witnessed a gig with terrible sound, so there’s been some vast improvement there resulting in pristine performances.
The show was blessed with two great support acts who got the crowd warmed up perfectly before Frank’s performance. The first act on was solo artist Beans On Toast who managed to break the dreaded silence that the average support band tends to receive with his onstage wit. Most songs were introduced and picked by simply asking the crowd questions such as “would you rather hear a song about an iPhone or blowjobs?” to which 99% of the audience shouted out “blowjobs”. The selection of songs revolved around tales of nights out, drinking, sex, drugs and just about every other form of human contact and interaction there is. All of these were delivered with tongue-in-cheek scenarios while simply being joined by an acoustic guitar and the occasional bit of harmonica. Although very few people in the crowd actually knew the songs or were even singing along, the constant crowd interaction made for a lot of laughs throughout and comfortably broke the ice.
Second act of the night was American band Flogging Molly who brought their mix of Celtic punk and energetic folk all the way from LA to create a high impact show. I’ve known of the bands existence for some time although I’ve never taken a deep look into their musical repertoire. For starters, the band arrived on stage fully suited and booted. I’m talking black shirts with suspenders (braces for us English), flat caps, waist coats, boots and ties, the full works. With an image as smart as that, I was waiting to see if the music could top their look, and by Christ it did. Everything just seemed to fly off the handle as the seven-piece strong band vigorously belted out song after song with such high spirit. The mix of rapid guitars, relentless drums and quick banjo work naturally meant you had to move, in fact it demanded you to get up and jump about otherwise you’d look a fool for standing still. During the entirety of their set, the crowd got into every little bit of fun that this band could possibly throw out. They certainly rank high as one of the better support acts I’ve seen over the years. In fact, when they finished, I overheard someone say “I’m not staying for Frank Turner, I only came to see Flogging Molly” Each to their own I guess.
If you’ve made it this far, then well done! As it’s time to focus on the main star, Frank Turner. I’ve seen Frank a few times over the years, starting off with Reading 2009, his headline set at 2000 Trees in 2010 and at the Eden Project in 2012. With this being my 4th time seeing the folk-punk legend, I was under the assumption that I wouldn’t witness anything that new or too extraordinary, and that’s exactly where I was wrong. Seeing his progression over the years has been somewhat heart-warming, especially given his transformation from hardcore punk to his witty and charming folk-like tales.
Starting off with fan favourite “Photosynthesis”, Frank and his brilliant band The Sleeping Souls gave everyone a joyfully anthemic sing along to welcome in the night. This was briefly followed by the first track of the evening to be taken from his latest record Tape Deck Heart, as “Plain Sailing Weather” gained an impressive amount of crowd commitment for a relatively recent track. Frank eventually introduced himself and the band to a rapturous crowd by praising the turnout and his previous visits to Plymouth. After this the singing continued over the next few songs while the crowd refused to let up, which in turn, resulted in the band giving more and more to their ever hungry fans. A personal favourite of mine “Glory Hallelujah” created a wonderful moment of unison as its ironic gospel chorus really does deserve the strongest of sing-alongs.
Returning back to his latest album, Frank and Co played the beautiful and reminiscing “The Way I Tend To Be” that went on to become one of the real highlights for me that night. As the night went on, Frank took the opportunity to pass over guitar duties and take the fulfilling roll as a prominent frontman. Armed with just the mic, he brought in the travel worn track “The Road” to a thunderous cheer, creating yet another amount of mass chanting and singing. Everything had been flowing perfectly since the beginning and when following song “If I Ever Stray” was abruptly belted out, the mood somehow went up another level.
The brief and strong willed “Eulogy” acted as a brilliant intro to following song “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous” which saw the room light up with hundreds of tiny polka dots, dazzling and beaming across the venue, bouncing off every wall. A few songs later and we we’re left for a few short minutes before the band returned to finish off a crowd pleasing evening. Everyone had been on top form the whole evening and not once did the energy levels dip. So when “I Still Believe” and “Four Simple Words” were aired, it provided a powerful and definitive end to an excellent show. The songs were undoubtedly great yet Frank’s charismatic attitude throughout was just as lovely to witness. He still sees himself as an average guy, he’s just lucky in what he gets to call a job. He told the crowd that the size of the venue doesn’t matter at all, as ultimately it’s the music onstage that’s most important. It’s certainly nice to see a musician, or a celebrity if you will, not act obnoxious for once and try to bridge that gap between the fans. It was a perfect gig to kick off the year! Here’s to many more!