Since my early teens I have dragged myself to The Joiners Arms to see an array of small punk bands, bands from across the pond and even friends bands take to the venues tiny stage, with each experience being very special. Tonight is just that and more. Frank Turner, fresh off a massive UK Tour with his band The Sleeping Souls and now a common addition to any festival line-up, returns to where it all began for him. To play a solo show with one reason in mind – to save this fantastic venue.
From the outset of the evening show it is clear that The Joiners is a venue that means a lot to the man up on stage. Clearly physically exhausted and also rather intoxicated at this point, Frank started the show in a fashion unusual to any gig I have ever been to. He insisted, with a donation, that requests from the crowd be taken. This resulted in a lovely mixture of Frank’s discography being played. Songs like ‘Long Live the Queen’ and ’Father’s Day’ were delightfully echoed back by the crammed crowd and performed with the emotion and passion expected of Frank; his no nonsense attitude showing through in his vocals. Turner then treated the crowd to a long-winded story about his newly-dumped friend and an encounter with Tom Jones in a toilet, followed by a brilliant rendition of the latter’s ‘Delilah’, with everyone swaying to the punk-like and raucous nature of the cover with utter glee.
The end of the set saw the songs, ‘I Still Believe’ and closer ’Photosynthesis’ encapsulate the mood and atmosphere of the entire evening, with the cavernous nature of The Joiners filled with a spine-tingling sing-a-long; the site of grown drunken men chanting the lyrics ’I won’t sit down, and I won’t shut up but most of all I will not grow up’ being a rather beautiful moment. With this atmosphere – coupled with the fact that the night was also Frank’s birthday – it was abundantly clear that everyone in attendance was here to dance and have a good time, but most importantly, it was reassuring to see that everyone knew the significance of Frank’s attendance.
With buckets being whipped around the venue throughout the set, I failed to see one single person refuse to add something toward the ill-fated venue. With this generosity and also Frank’s pledge to double the amount of money at the end of the night, the message here was clear. This was a very fun and intimate gig which I, and everyone around me thoroughly enjoyed, but I came away with a sense of warmth and even hope for a venue which is vital, not only to the Southampton music scene, but the music scene in general.
Photos from Frank Turner’s Instagram page.