Frank Turner (Southampton Guildhall, 29/11/12)

This is a review of Frank Turner’s 29th November 2012 performance at Southampton Guildhall, written for GUITAR CAFE.

My interview with Frank Turner is available to read here.

Johnny Cash famously told tales of shootings and prison life in his ‘Folsom Prison Blues’, something that Virginia folk singer opener Tim Barry continued in his track ‘Dog Bumped’.  However, I can’t recall Cash saying “f***” quite so much.  In between opener Barry’s songs, there were interludes reserved to tell us all shaggy dog stories about endless freight train travels and life in a shed, one of the ultimate stereotypes country music.  However, he gave it his own twist and (surprise, surprise) sprinkled it all with naughty words.

However, it is all in good fun and infuriatingly catchy.  Just don’t  let your parents catch you singing along!  He also mentioned how in America, he had the misfortune of having to perform after tonight’s main event Frank Turner, who tonight would go all out to prove why this was such a problem for poor Timmy.

“It’s nice to be back in Hampshire!”.  This was something that Turner would remind us of quite a lot.  Southampton received a mention in the second song, as did seemingly every other song from here on.  This was a homecoming show, and he wasn’t going to let anybody forget it. Perhaps the defining moment was the performance of ‘Wessex Boy’, a song that alludes to various sites of Turner’s hometown of Winchester.  Having asked beforehand how many people had traveled from Winchester, and getting a rousing scream back, the number of cheers dotted around the songs as each site got mention suggests that no one was lying.

That’s certainly not the say that audience participation was exclusive to that one song.  Oh no!  For example, ‘Reasons Not to Be an Idiot’ received a deafening sing-along (alongside blinding strobe lights), which segued directly into ‘No God’, a song tailor-made for live shows, just asking to be clapped along to.  And it worked.  Even a mention of his mother provoked applause.

“We’re going to play some new songs if you don’t mind?”.  Luckily, nobody minded at all.  Inevitably, the atmosphere calmed a little as very few were familiar with tracks from his, as of yet unreleased album.  That’s not to say that that was a bad thing.  The ecstatic crowd took a couple of much needed four-minute-long breathers.

Turner was on spectacular form, prepared to throw himself around and scream his throat dry in a style usually reserved for metal, then winding down into ballads such as ‘To Take You Home’, fittingly the calmest song ever to mention death metal.

While this homecoming show didn’t mark the end of the tour, with its extended set, prolonged power and a perfect location for a finale, it may as well have been.



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