Last Thursday night Frank Turner headlined Manchester’s O2 Ritz for Big Issue North‘s Street Noise project. Taking to the stage with just his acoustic guitar, Frank was greeted by deafening cheers and rapturous applause from the crowd, who instantly fell silent as he began his set with a new track titled ‘Be More Kind’. ‘The Next Storm’ followed, from his latest album ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’, with Frank complimenting the crowd on their behaviour, smirking as he told them that the final chorus requires the crowd to sing-along and how people always sing prematurely. When it came to the final chorus, the entirety of the crowd were shouting “rejoice” at the top of their voices and the sing-along standard was set high for the duration of the night.
Frank stormed through a set list of tracks from all areas of his solo career, from passionate renditions of emotive tracks such as ‘Mittens’ and ‘I Am Disappeared’, to a heart warming performance of ‘Song For Eva Mae’, dedicated to his God Daughter of the same name. From the personal touch that he adds to his shows by keeping track of their number (this one was Show 2088) to the fact that he responds to all of the emails that he receives from his fans, Frank possesses a special connection with his fans both on and off the stage, as well as a mutual respect that was highlighted when he began to play tracks that people had requested via email, including the atmospheric ‘Journey of the Magi’.
Frank’s last Manchester gig was on a slightly bigger scale than the beautifully intimate surroundings of the O2 Ritz, taking place at Castlefield Bowl, where he was the main support act for Blink 182 with his band, The Sleeping Souls. Though on Thursday night they weren’t present, they still received a shout out from Frank and appreciative cheers from the crowd – in the absence of guitarist Ben Lloyd’s almighty mandolin solo during ‘Photosynthesis’, Frank used the pause to take the opportunity to speak about the issue of homelessness and how we can help.
Ending the show on a lively note with his rousing single ‘I Still Believe’, inclusive of a sea of arms pointing to the sky as the crowd shouted “I Still Believe” back to him, it was barely one minute before Frank returned and reintroduced his support band Felix Hagan & The Family. Whilst kicking lyric sheets around the stage, Frank explained that Felix Hagan & The Family had learnt a few new songs and how excited he was to join them, before diving into Queen ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and Green Day ‘Basketcase’. The pace was taken down a notch slightly for the intro to the last song of the night; ‘Four Simple Words’ from ‘Tape Deck Heart’, though in true Frank Turner fashion, he was crowd surfing by the time the chorus had kicked in – not something that happens at your average acoustic gig!
Not only was a great night had by all (including Frank, judging by the huge grin plastered across his face) but it also raised money for a wonderful cause. With no UK tour planned until 2018, Frank certainly gave the crowd his all and when the lights came on, they returned the favour with an impromptu sing-along of ‘The Ballad of Me And My Friends’, to put the cherry on top of an already special evening.
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