Review: Frank Turner at the Bournemouth International Centre

2,306.

That’s the number of shows Frank Turner had played before taking to the stage at the Bournemouth International Centre on Friday evening. For reference, that would equate to over six years of solid touring if he were to play a show a day, or (based on a 90 minute set) 3,459 hours of stage time – quite staggering!

Show 2,307 brought Turner to Bournemouth, a short drive down the coast from his hometown of Winchester, to play the largest headline show he has ever played in the seaside town, on a frightfully cold evening dominated by cold winds and icy roads that had threatened to prevent many of the 4,000 strong crowd from attending. Despite some casualties of the weather (there were some noticeable gaps in the seating areas on the balcony), the atmosphere in the room made it feel like the venue was packed to the rafters.

Turner has made his name over the past 14 years by generating a loyal following of fans that endeavour to attend as many of his shows as possible due to the joyful atmosphere he is able to create night after night. The 37-year old has an innate ability to make any venue feel like a small pub room on a Friday night by continuously encouraging interaction with the crowd throughout his set. There are only two rules when one attends a Frank Turner gig:

Rule 1) Don’t be a dickhead – enjoy yourself as much as you can, but ensure that nothing you do does anything to harm or ruin the experience of others around you

Rule 2) You have to sing along to every word you know and dance like there’s no tomorrow

These two very simple and easy to follow rules set the tone for every show he plays, and it is thanks to these rules that you are guaranteed to have a joyful evening filled with good old rock ‘n’ roll, pop punk and folky belters.

Along with his trustee touring band The Sleeping Souls, consisting of guitarist Ben Lloyd, drummer Nigel Powells, bassist Tarrant Anderson and pianist Matt Nasir, and playing tracks from all of his seven released studio records to date, Turner showcased his live prowess and extensive discography in a polished, yet synonymously energetic, 90-plus minute set. The evening had been set up perfectly by support acts Grace Petrie and pop-punk legends Jimmy Eat World, who ensured that the scene had been set and the attendees more than adequately warmed-up for a man who demands jumping, dancing, singing and chanting in abundance.

Bursting onto the stage with ‘Out of Breath’ from Positive Songs for Negative People with an explosion of jumps and leg flicks, the crowd weren’t left under any illusions that this was to be anything other than another vigourous live show. The former Etonian then powered through four tracks from four different albums in the form of ‘Photosynthesis’, ‘1933’, a clear crowd favourite in ‘Recovery’, and ‘If I Ever Stray’. Quite often when an artist attempts to integrate tracks from their entire back catalogue in and amongst each other, the set can come across as quite disjointed and unbalanced, but with Turner you could be forgiven for thinking that he was just playing through any one of his seven albums in its entirety, thanks to his ability to fine-tune a setlist into an amalgamation of live anthems that sit perfectly alongside each other no matter how long ago the tracks were originally released.

A clear highlight from the evening was just before the halfway point when Frank invited professional dancer Benny Bright up on the stage before playing ‘Little Changes’. The music video for the track involves a couple of actors and Turner partaking in a dance routine, and Bright threw together a tutorial video on YouTube, which Turner lauded to the Bournemouth crowd. Apparently, a few nights earlier, Turner had discovered that Bright was in attendance at a show in Manchester so got him up on stage then to perform the dance whilst the track was performed, leading to what the singer described as “arguably one of [his] favourite ever moments”; so upon discovering that Bright was a Dorset boy, asked if he’d be up for doing the same at the BIC – and there they were!

The Sleeping Souls retired to the back stage area a few songs later in order to give Frank an opportunity to perform on his own, a capacity that most in attendance would have been more familiar seeing him in his earlier years on the road. This was a fitting opportunity to create a further bond between artist and audience as he explained how the next track, ‘Wessex Boy’, was all about growing up back in his hometown of Winchester up the road. This helped to create a real intimate feel within the arena environment, giving everyone in the room a break from the high octane environment that had been generated beforehand. ‘Long Live the Queen’ and ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’, which required arguably the best crowd participation of the evening, followed before The Sleeping Souls returned to their posts.

The set drew to a conclusion after the solo segment with performances of tracks from Love Ire & SongPositive Songs for Negative PeoplePoetry of the Deed, and England Keep My Bones, before himself retiring backstage for rest break in anticipation of the encore to come.

I often hear that there is never anything quite like a Frank Turner show. Anyone I have ever known that has been blessed to see him in a live capacity can do nothing but sing the highest of praises of him. Show 2,307 once again confirmed this – if you attend a show of his, you are guaranteed to have a good time and be surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are no less than jubilant for the fact that are able to spend an evening listening to awesome music whilst watching a guy live his dream before their very eyes.

Without a shadow of a doubt you walk away from a Frank Turner show happier than when you walked in – and that is what music is meant to be all about.

Frank Turner was playing at the Bournemouth International Centre on Friday 1st February.

 

Latest Release: Don’t Worry – EP

Highlights: ‘Recovery’ – ‘Wessex Boy’ – ‘I Still Believe’

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