Frank Turner (+Dive Dive +Ed Harcourt) – 53 Degrees, Preston
Despite seeing Frank Turner perform sets supporting Green Day and at Leeds Festival this year, his recent show in Preston was my first time seeing a full, headline set. I’d seen excellent performances before, and after chatting to him for half an hour before the show, I was hyped.
Thankfully, this didn’t lead to disappointment. Opening with new(ish) song “Eulogy”, Frank then launched into fantastic performances of “Poetry of the Deed” and “Try This At Home”. They may be relatively new songs, but they’re becoming live favourites for a reason.
What followed was a perfectly formed set spanning Frank’s career thus far. Fans were expecting old favourites like “Nashville Tennesse” and “Substitute”, but the little surprises are what made this show pretty much flawless.
Initially disappointed at the lack of “The Real Damage” opening the show, this soon disappeared when a surprising, rare performance of The Postal Service’s “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”. It was unexpected, and as I’ve mentioned before, the studio version of this contains one of my favourite vocal performances. To hear it live was a beautiful moment.
The love for music, protest and a good time was apparent on stage and off. It’s rare at a singer-songwriter show (albeit one with a live band) to get this much energy, and such a stunning atmosphere. Hearing almost 1,000 people singing along to tracks like “Love, Ire & Song” and “I Still Believe” showed that a generation regarded as apethetic do care about culture and our future.
The older favourites meshed well with the bigger hits, and some brand new tracks. “Peggy”, an ode to Frank Turner’s grandmother, is a brilliantly crafted folk track, sounded excellent live and has already got me excited for the new album next year.
Similarly, “The Next Round” (taken from the new Rock & Roll EP) was brilliant. Introduced as a drinking song, it was a blunt, honest assessment of why people drink. Moving and enjoyable, it was a great performance.
Perhaps the best example of why Turner puts on such flawless live shows is his clear passion for live music. In the times I’ve communicated with him, both via e-mail and in person, this really comes across, as it does on stage. There was almost venom is his delivery of the chorus to “Father’s Day”, and his gratitude at the opportunities he has are genuine.
Picking out a best track is difficult at most shows, even more so when the performance is this stellar. “Long Live The Queen” is always emotional, although it’s maybe not surprising that “The Ballad of Me and My Friends” stole the show. I read on a YouTube comment that the line “And we’re definitely going to hell” is one of the most powerful moments in music, and after this show I’m hard-pressed to name anything that comes close.
The show ending on an upbeat high with “Photosynthesis”, for which Dive Dive vocalist Jamie Stuart and genius Ed Harcourt were welcomed by to the stage. The energy was incredible, the crowd and the guys on stage feeding off each other for a brilliant finale.
The tour is finished now, and Frank will be entering the studio in January. He’s already announced plans for a couple of UK tours next year, and after this gig they can’t come soon enough.