I know I posted about Frank Turner last time, but the thing that prompted my last post was buying tickets to Sunday’s gig – and getting a bit over excited, if I’m honest! If you read my earlier post, you’ll know that I like Frank Turner a little bit (well, ok… a lot). I’ve seen him a couple of times before (well, ok… 6 or 7 times), but still getting my tickets through and waiting with anticipation for the day to dawn was enough to prompt my last little out-pouring of hero worship…
So, finally, the day arrived. Jon and I decided to take advantage of a trip into Oxford, to make a day of it and do some Christmas shopping before heading off to the venue. I’ll not bore you with the details, except to say that I bought the coolest woolly hat ever. Yay!
After dumping our shopping bags in the car, walking to the venue in the freezing cold, and patiently (well, kind of patiently – it was freezing after all*!) waiting outside in the queue, we found ourselves in the hall of the The Regal.
My first impression was of an odd venue – it had a part theatre, part bingo hall, part band venue feel to it – with art deco style walls and balcony contrasting strangely with a big modern bar. But the stage was big and the lighting set-up looked impressive, and we managed to find a spot to the side where there was a raised platform – brilliant for short people like me to avoid the usual gig situation where, no matter where you stand, tall people will come and stand in front of you.
We had a great view, so we were ideally placed for the support bands, Dive Dive and Ed Harcourt. I really enjoyed Dive Dive’s set – it was energetic, catchy and accessible, but quite varied musically. Solo singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt was interesting – a blend of acoustic guitar, piano, percussion and recorded loops, all held together by Ed’s soulful voice. Not quite sure what I think of him yet, it’s the sort of music you need to hear a lot to get your head round, but it was fascinating to watch him build and layer the sounds.
At this point, waiting with anticipation for our headliner to come on, I had a weird little panicky feeling – what if Frank wasn’t as good as I remembered? What if I’d idealised him in my head so much that he couldn’t possibly live up to my expectations? What if my admiration was mis-placed? And then suddenly the lights dropped, and Frank Turner was walking on stage…
He was brilliant – from the first song to the last, from the new material to the old favourites to the acoustic cover of Bruce Springsteen. Full of energy, alive with conviction and generally looking like he was having the time of his life, Frank rocked! The random and completely unfounded worries of earlier melted into non-existence and I was left feeling pure elation. And I was not alone – the venue was packed and the crowd sang along to almost every song – and looking over the room from where I stood, I could see the joy that I was feeling mirrored on so many faces. The set was well constructed; starting with the full band, breaking down to just Frank with his guitar for a few numbers before building up again to the finale. I loved new song Peggy and sang my little heart out to classics like The Road and Photosynthesis.
An awesome experience and a fantastic gig – pure genius. Can’t wait for the next time.
*Note – buying a new super-warm woolly hat before standing in a queue in minus temperatures gives you a lovely smug feeling. Sometimes those impulse purchases are a good idea!