On Wednesday 14th December, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls played Portsmouth Guildhall supported by two very memorable support acts. Despite this being his 1,999th live show, I had never seen Frank Turner before. My first experience at a Frank Turner gig was phenomenal.
Up first as support was Esmé Patterson, an angel voiced rock goddess from Colorado with an ear for infectious drum beats and toe-tapping bass. It felt as though Esmé and her band had just stepped out of ‘Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World’ with a high on life attitude and a raw edge to the vocals and guitar riffs.
In direct contrast, Felix Hagan and the Family seemed like an amalgamation of Glam rock, Mika and Queen influenced by a West End musical. Front-man, Felix, bore an unusual resemblance to Aldous Snow in ‘Get Him to the Greek’. Dressed in a white feather boa, he shared the stage with two female vocalists who owned the stage with their high energy dance moves just as much as Felix himself.
Frank Turner’s presence, however, naturally gripped the entire room. His showmanship was golden and his engagement with the audience was powerful. Frank Turner has this extraordinary ability to work a room, despite earlier admitting his exhaustion after a relentless tour – his fans showed their utmost respect.
His set list brought the energy up with tracks like ‘Josephine’ and let the beautifully written lyrics of more downbeat tracks such as ‘Balthazar, Impresario’ resonate. Towards the end of his set, Frank invited an old friend up on stage to dive into the audience during ‘If Ever I Stray’ and achieve three things: high five someone, take a sip out of someone’s pint and get a selfie. Later on, a wall of death became a wall of hugs. With stunts like these, it’s no surprise that Frank has such a diverse fan base.
In between songs, Frank took the time to promote Safe Gigs For Women, asking anyone who thinks that harassing a woman is acceptable to ‘have a f**cking word with themselves’. With a genuine heart, Frank’s short preach to the choir was met with huge applause.
After 1,999 shows, this man – while admitting that he has been through some rough patches in his life, is very clearly well experienced and knows his fans like a father to his children; he dedicated a few songs to a fan who’d been to every single gig on the ‘Get Better’ tour.
I left the venue safe in the knowledge that I would go see Frank Turner again. He might not be worth spending every penny I have seeing every gig on one tour, but he’s certainly not boring. You don’t just turn up at a Frank Turner gig only to hear your favourite songs. You go for the people. You go for the experience, the atmosphere and the feeling that you can sing along to any song he throws at you. If you enjoy that fuzzy feeling when everyone in a room sings together, go to a Frank Turner gig.
This is what music is all about.