Categorized | Reviews

Martyn enjoys ‘An Evening with Frank Turner’

Posted on 01 June 2011 by Mizzle

An Evening with Frank Turner, The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton, Sunday May 22nd 2011

Opening act, Reading based Ben Marwood walked onstage with his acoustic guitar to nothing more than polite applause but during his half hour set, he gradually won the sparse crowd over. From opening number Question Marks, through to the crowd pleasing Oh My Days. Marwood showed plenty of wit and charm as well as a decent knack for getting the crowd involved.

By the time Brooklyn native, Franz Nicolay took to the stage in full suit, trilby and smiling from under his upturned moustache, it was clear he was going to entertain. The biggest clue to this was the accordion strapped to his chest. As he traded banter with a gradually swelling crowd, including name dropping everyone from Bill Murray to Social Distortion, he worked his way through a set that was musically accomplished on both accordion and banjo as well as lyrically well constructed, but ultimately left a portion of the audience confused as to what exactly they were witnessing.

Having the chance to see Frank Turner perform completely solo in an intimate venue is an experience that may not be possible for much longer due to his rapidly increasing popularity. This summer amongst other festival appearances both here and around Europe, he’s headlining the third stage at Download and playing the main stage at Reading and Leeds. The reception for him was therefore understandable. After getting recent singles Try This At Home and I Still believe out of the way early, Turner settled into a mix of new songs from his upcoming fourth studio album, England Keep My Bones as well as his more well known songs from the Poetry of The Deed and Love Ire & Song albums. After pulling the crowd together for a rousing air harmonica session for Dan’s Song, an ode to chilled out, summer days with friends, Turner moved on to The Ballad of Steve, a hilarious true story about the flight attendant who quit his job in spectacular style in 2010. The acapella English Curse, telling the tale of the aftermath of the Norman invasion of Britain showcased the strength of Turner’s voice and didn’t disappoint. After a couple more fan favourites, in the form of The Road and Photosynthesis, the time came for the traditional encore. Here, he thankfully favoured the direct continuation option, getting help from Nicolay and Marwood in performing a cover of the Postal Service song The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, before finally closing with the anthemic The Ballad of Me and My Friends. The crowd showed their appreciation throughout the set and Turner was comfortable feeding off the energy with plenty of joking and audience participation between songs and if he performs to this level on the festival tour, he’s sure to gain an even bigger following and he’s certainly earned it.