Cheltenham’s Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun were the first act of the evening, playing songs from their 2012 album, Death. Their energetic and anthemic country punk rock echoed about the Guildhall as the band jumped around the stage, much to the fascination of the audience. The man himself, Frank Turner, suddenly appears during ‘Home / Hospitals’ to play a harmonica solo before running off again. Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun will be playing at The Joiners on February 4th and are definitely a band to watch out for in 2013.
Next up was Virginia based folk singer, Tim Barry who charmed the audience with tales of living rough and riding freight trains. He played a humble set of modest songs, often dragging at times, but overall enjoyable. Frank Turner was up next, the reason the show sold out. My first experience of Frank Turner was at Strummer of Love festival. He opened the festival and having not heard anything from him before I automatically thought ‘this is a guy to look out for’. With a set much different to the one that graced the Guildhall, it was merely Frank and a guitar. This time around he was joined by his band The Sleeping Souls completely transforming tracks I had only ever heard played acoustically.
He opened with ‘I am Disappeared’. Instantly recognisable by the majority of the crowd. Those around me were singing every single word, this being no exaggeration. It seemed as though you were either a die hard Frank Turner fan or you knew nothing about him at all. No middle ground. Next was ‘The Road’ and as soon as Frank shouted the first ‘To the east, to the east!’ the crowd erupted with excitement. It was heart-warming to see people (mostly men aged 20-40) singing Frank’s lyrics back at him with all their might. Friends of mine had been spotifying him over the week preceding the show and found that they were blown away by his live performance in comparison to that you hear from his CDs. Crowd interaction was at it’s best when he hosted a dance competition declaring that everyone must dance when the song ‘dropped’.
His set consisted of a whopping 23 tracks including a massive four song encore. Frank demonstrated his versatility and flare by playing tracks across all of his back catalogue. This was a show for the fans and with this being his ‘homecoming’ show (Frank is from Winchester) he dedicated tracks to friends in the audience. Perhaps the best reaction from the home crowd was when he performed ‘Wessex Boy’. You can see from the title that this track meant a lot to him and to be performing it in Southampton of all places made it all the more relevant. Finishing the initial part of his set with ‘I Still Believe’ highlighted how the crowd’s energy (and the band’s for that matter) was kept at an all time high throughout his whole performance. It was definitely one of the best atmosphere’s I’ve experience for a while in the Guildhall. He came back onstage for his encore of four songs including ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’, ‘Photosynthesis’ and finished on the punky ‘Dan’s Song’. Overall myself and everyone around me had a fantastic evening enjoying the extremely talented singer/songwriter.
You can catch Frank Turner at his benefit show at The Joiners later this month, 29th December 2012.
Contributions – Connor Butler