Review of Frank Turner at St George’s in Bristol

Ok, I will confess now that this review will not be as objective as perhaps it should be. If you read back through my blog entries you will already know that I am a massive fan of Frank Turner and, since Frank was nice enough to speak to hubby and I after the show last night, I am still totally buzzing with excitement and over-enthusiasm; meaning that this review might dissolve into a ramble about how great I think he is.

Because he is great. And last night’s show was amazing. And I was soo very lucky not only to get last minute tickets, but also to end up right at the front. So much awesome in one evening…

Ah – it’s already happened, hasn’t it?

*Ahem* Well then, now that that’s out the way…

Let’s start with the venue. St George’s is (or was) a church, and so the gig was seated – which just felt weird – but the acoustics were beautiful, and the space open and light. The atmosphere was one of contained excitement, the normal pre-gig chatter slightly subdued by the grand surroundings, but it was pleasant none-the-less.

The supports for the evening (and for the rest of the tour) were Ben Marwood and Franz Nicolay, both of whom were very good. Franz pointed out that it’s traditional when attending big shows that the support acts are always shit… and ably then went on to prove that’s not the case.

I’ve seen Ben Marwood a couple of times before, and really love his songs – as I’ve said before, they’re clever, intricate and honest and Ben has one of those voices that I could listen to for hours. His set was a good mix of some older songs, some from his recently released album Outside There’s a Curse and some that I’ve not heard before. After touring for a while he was clearly more relaxed on stage, and was chatty and humourous between songs. Definitely recommend checking him out (I’ve told you this before – why haven’t you already heeded my repeated calls to do so? Hmmm?!).

Multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay was the enigma on the bill (for me anyway) as I  had never seen him, or even heard of him, before. Very much enjoyed his set; it felt like a combination of folk and vaudeville traditions, and really suited the arena of St George’s. His songs were story-like in their lyrics and structure and the mixture of guitar, accordion and banjo playing was great. Plus, he has a brilliant moustache!*

Right then, on to our headliner – Mr Frank Turner himself. Of course I loved every second, so I guess I should clarify why.

Firstly, as much as I enjoy the energy when Frank plays with his band, it was really awesome to see a show that was just him and his acoustic guitar(s). It just shows how strong the songs are, and how much emotion he puts into performing them, that one voice and one instrument can keep a packed hall at rapt attention.

The set itself was fantastic – as you would expect he played some songs from the new album (out in a few weeks, I believe), including I am Disappeared. As for older songs,  he played Better Half, a heart-wrenching classic that is rarely heard live; I was surprised and completely overjoyed to hear A Decent Cup of Tea – my absolute favourite song from Sleep is for the Week – which in all the times I’ve been to Frank Turner gigs**, I have never seen him play. He followed it up with another sad song that I didn’t know, then broke into Long Live The Queen. Embarrassing confession time – I almost cried (how very teenage of me)… But then he lifted the mood and got the crowd up, singing and stamping their feet.

He did a song with Franz Nicolay as part of the encore, and then brought Ben Marwood back on stage so all three of them could do an amazing cover of The District Sleeps Alone Tonight by The Postal Service.

When it came to the finale of  The Ballad of Me and My Friends, for which Frank climbed off the stage to stand on the seats in the crowd, the place was in a frenzy. It was an amazing experience – hubby had to duck the neck of Frank’s guitar, and suddenly there he was, right in front of me, and we were all singing and it was indescribably, awe-inspiringly good.


Best gig ever***.

Alright, I shall stop now – I think you’ve probably got the idea! But, there is already a video on YouTube from last night’s gig, so in the interest of demonstrating the reason for my possibly-verging-on-obsessive fandom here it is. Enjoy!

*Yes, I know – I shouldn’t judge on appearances… But c’mon, who doesn’t love curly moustaches?!

**On the way to the gig, hubby and I worked out that we’ve seen Frank Turner seven times now – and that’s if you count the year he played about 5 sets at the 2000Trees Festival as one…

***I may have to confess that I might have said that last time… and maybe even the time before that… *awkward cough* But honestly – it will take a lot to beat last night.


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