Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, The Limelight, Belfast. Thursday 11th February 2016
Show number 1829 in the life of Frank Turner brought him and his band The Sleeping Souls to Belfast and a packed house at The Limelight. An 8 o’clock headline slot at a gig felt a little odd to be honest but that was forgotten when at two minutes past Frank Turner burst on the stage and blasted out “The Next Storm” from his latest release “Positive Songs for Negative People”. Ultimately this set the tone for an energy filled and very loud, the decibel meter was reading 105 at one point, show of nearly thirty songs which covered his entire back catalogue and by the end of the night left a packed house sweating, singing their hearts out and walking out the door with ringing in their ears.
Turner apologised for not having played a show in Belfast for nearly three years, promised that he would not leave it so long next time and said how great it felt to catch up with old friends. He has a growling voice that sounds painful but delivers songs that are a mix of anger, hope, despair and happiness all rolled into one. Frank Turner was born in Bahrain but is English through and through epitomised by songs about living in England and his fourth album release entitled “England Keep My Bones”.
The song “Eulogy” tell us that not everyone grows up to be an astronaut, was born to be a king or can be Freddie Mercury but when you die the only eulogy that you really need is that you tried. And Frank Turner has.
The first song that Turner played on the electric guitar on the night was “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead, a tribute to lead singer Lemmy who sadly passed away from cancer along with many other famous musicians in a dark January for music. He decided to stop short of singing the song but the intro of the song said all that was needed.
“Polaroid Picture” had virtually each and every member of the audience jumping up and down and the place was rocking. Frank Turner to be fair has a connection with his audience that is so good to see and is what makes music what it is, as he said, something that just brings people together.
There were rules on the night and one of those was that if you know the words to any song you have to sing along. Another rule was that everyone had to sit down at one point and then jump up and dance around. Everyone did it. It may be a cliché but Turner had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.
He played one of his early releases “Mr Richards” and admitted that he had to Google the lyrics because as he had written so many songs throughout his music career he couldn’t remember them all. There was no time for a costume change into an Elvis outfit (check out the video) for his latest release Mittens but this and other songs from his new album blended in perfectly on the night with his older releases.
A couple of the best received songs on the night, two of many I might add, were the amazing “Reasons Not To Be An Idiot” and “Recovery”, a heartfelt song which Turner tells us was written about a journey on a road out of a very bad time in his life. Each and every one of Frank Turner’s songs tells a story of how his life has unfolded, both good and bad.
Having already dragged out his Derry born guitar technician Cahir for a spot of crowd surfing Frank Turner decided he had to have a go and threw himself into the crowd. Luckily for him the crowd caught him, surfed him around and left him safe and sound back on the stage. Just one more reason Frank Turner endears himself to his army of fans.
Finishing the set with “I Still Believe” and “Four Simple Words” the evening had turned into an anthemic sing along which says everything about Frank Turner, his music and his bond with his audience.
It was a show full of unbelievable energy, it was a show full of lyrically poignant songs and a show that left an audience hoping that it wouldn’t be another three years before the next visit of Frank Turner to Belfast.