Coventry comes to out to play 

Frank Turner can’t quite decide whether Coventry or Liverpool has been the best crowd of the tour so far, so he decides to settle it the only way that seems fair. By getting one of his mates on stage, making him form a human pyramid, and then insisting he high fives targets that are picked out for him in the audience, as he crowd-surfs around.

You can take the boy out of the punk band, but you can never take the punk out of the boy, it seems.

This is a special tour for Frank Turner. In 17 gigs time, he will clock up 2000 shows, this being 1983 and all, he namechecks Iron Maiden’s “Piece Of Mind” to the general bemusement of most and although MV  was rather upset that “The Trooper” wasn’t played, we’ll have to forgive and move on.

It is also fair to say that for the hour and three quarters he’s onstage tonight, Frank Turner proves himself to be – as ever – a formidable showman, but one with the savvy to bring things down to an acoustic solo section midway through, playing requests that fans have asked for on social media. Perhaps its that type of connection that means Turner has not just such a huge fanbase (this show is sold out, as it would have been if he’d played a much bigger venue too) but one that is as invested in the artist in a way that you seldom see (indeed it is only the aforementioned Iron Maiden that comes close for sheer hysteria).

A singer/songwriter that has crossed over in ways that others simply do not, this is a crowd of all ages, ethnicities  and sexes, but they all have one thing in common: from “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous” to “Four Simple Words” they all know every word to every song in a way that is quite astonishing.

Both Turner and his wonderfully talented band The Sleeping Souls, feed off this incredible energy, delivering the same charged up set they have done every time we’ve seen them over the years. The songs may change, but the energy does not.

And there is a fine body of work to choose from too. “Long Live The Queen” is one of the most uplifting songs you can imagine, and in keeping with the general message of positivity and empowerment that imbues the evening. “Try This At Home”and “I Still Believe” preach hope, while “Glorious You” is delivered with the power of a gospel recital and the crowd goes all kinds of crazy for “The Road”.

What happens in between, though, is what shows his versatility and skill. The acoustic portion doesn’t always work at gigs, but it absolutely does here, and “Isabel” is fragile and gorgeous, but he’s able to change pace with rare skill to race to a crescendo that includes the crowd surfing interlude in a riotous “If Ever I Stay”, a circle pit in “If Ever I Say” and a celebratory “Photosynthesis” (complete with “wall of hugs”) to close.

There’s another request in the encore and old song “Casanova’s Intent” is greeted like an old friend,  “Get Better” and “Recovery” pass in a blur, before Turner gets up close and personal with the audience, leaping off for a crowdsurf. himself. It’s chorus line “all I wanna do is dance” is apt here too, given that the star of all this is off to DJ in Birmingham at 1am, There’s a fair chance most of this lot will follow him, even if they don’t they’ll still be buzzing, you can be damn sure.

This was a study in the awesome power of music to connect people everywhere, and that was probably always the point. Just as it has been for the other 1982 Frank Turner shows too.


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