Frank Turner

Gig Review: Frank Turner, Glasgow Barrowlands, 25th November 2011

It’s hard to feel any ill towards Frank Turner. Sporting the image of a busker who has made it to the big time, he clearly loves music, he loves people, and he loves life. The fact that he is incredibly English doesn’t bother the Scottish crowd at all, and everyone in attendance is here to celebrate singing, unity, and life. And he’s got this far without once compromising his sound and always doing what he wants – Frank Turner is the very definition of folk-punk.

Anyway, before all that we’re treated to the very pleasant Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo (6). Representing the “folk” part of folk-punk, it’s all very pretty and beautiful, especially when Emily asks for the audience to be silent for a particularly quiet song. Relaxing and serene, yes, but perhaps more suited to a different line-up considering what is to come…

Flying the flag high for punk, not just tonight but in general, and receiving the first 10/10 I’veĀ  given since beginning my time here is Against Me! (10) When all you have on stage is 4 men banging away at their instruments with no light show, no backdrop and no gimmicks, you better be bloody good. Thankfully, Against Me! are better than good. Without pausing for breath the entire time they’re on stage, the band rush through a crammed set that is full of energy and life, each band member playing as if it is the last time they’ll ever appear on stage. From the anthemic “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” to the soaring singalong “Thrash Unreal” Against Me! are a captivating rock band, and undoubtedly one of the best live bands in the world right now. A life-affirming performance.

It gives me great pleasure to award my second 10/10 in the same review to Frank Turner and his band The Sleeping Souls (10). Frank has sussed out what it means to be a musician in 2011 – the world over he unites people through his music, and the atmosphere tonight is a cause for celebration no matter the subject matter: apathy (“Photosynthesis”), love of your hometown (“Wessex Boy”), or the loss of a loved one (“Long Live the Queen”). Everyone in this room experiences these things and it is that bringing together of people that makes a Frank Turner gig so special.

The songs themselves are all masterclass. The crowd are happy to jump along and yell (off-key) at the proper moments, providing the chorus to “I Still Believe” just like the field of fans on record. But they’re just as happy to be transfixed by the quieter moments, standing in appreciation for the rarely-played “Wisdom Teeth” and new song “Cowboy Chords.” As if his own music wasn’t good enough, a cover of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” elevates the night to a highly probably “gig of the year” status.

Everyone in attendance tonight will take something different from Frank Turner’s show. They may have lost their voice while raising their drinks aloft and singing about how they refuse to grow up (while Frank is making sure that the security and bar staff join in with the chorus). Others will have taken comfort in the fact that while bad things happen in life, the option to keep dancing is there – “Long Live the Queen” being both one of the happiest and saddest songs ever written.

Most importantly though, Frank Turner is a wanderer and a musician. He sees life, and then he sings about it.


About Scott Wilson

Having spent the last twenty years of his life telling his friends his opinion of the latest release by every band he has ever heard of, Scott is an enthusiastic journalist and keen writer. A fan of every genre of music, though his heart firmly belongs to rock, he has been spending far too much money on gigs and not enough on digs. Reachable by either email or Twitter where copious amounts of commentating and general excitement can also be found.

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