Fighting through the icy conditions and his own illness Hampshire born Folk/Punk singer song writer and former Million Dead frontman Frank Turner returned to his home county in style on his seemingly endless tour to play a venue at which he mentioned as a teenager he used to come to gigs and look longingly at the stage thinking “one day”. Obviously this is a dream that came true as Winchester lad Turner took to the Southampton Guildhall stage and did anything but disappoint his home crowd, which included, as he made a note to point out, his mum.
Despite suffering from a sore throat Turner made his way to the stage and fought through it providing a truly unforgettable performance. Opening with short unrecorded piece Eulogy before going straight into Poetry of the Deed the whole room just exploded with energy, which seemed to unrelenting throughout the whole night. As Turner performed a set that covered the whole breadth of his year on year growing back catalogue of material, you could tell he plainly loved every minute of it playing every song to the best of his ability, despite his ailment, ignoring protests from his drummer Nigel Powell who put eloquently that he thought Turner’s voice was “f**ked”. But despite his drummer’s claims I couldn’t tell, since his voice was constantly bolstered by hundreds of voices in the crowd who knew every word and sung along with every ounce of passion that he sings with.
Some things really do seem to set Turner apart from the crowd when it comes to live shows, but these can be best summed up in simply describing it as the immediate connection people find with him. Firstly Turner doesn’t present himself like some immortal rock star with his head up his arse he seems like your mate, he banters with the crowd and really lets you into his life and appears genuinely humbled by the reaction he gets, especially in front of his home fans. This is something that really sticks with you and makes gigs even in venues the size of the Guildhall seem much more intimate. Secondly of course his amazingly relatable lyrics, while not the most heavy in the artistic department they make up for it by being unashamedly honest and raw. So while arguably being simple, they are instantly relatable to anyone who has grown up in our culture, Turner’s tales of mornings waking up hung-over on a friend’s sofa, that girl you saw at the bar last night and simply that burning desire to make it infused with his “heart on his sleeve” style when he sings, or borderline shouts at times, makes his shows so passionate thus so unforgettable and brilliant.
Even with his sore throat Frank Turner blew the roof and then some off the guildhall. While it may not have been the most musically adapt or artsy performance, it was filled with uncompromising passion and emotion that I would say trumps a cold textbook show of musicianship everyday of the week. Frank Turner is establishing himself as one of the UK’s best live acts and is growing in popularity with every release, one of the most unique, special and meaningful performers on the scene at the moment and put on a show that was undoubtably worth braving a freezing December night for.