Frank Turner review: A folk-punk troubadour brings down the house SWG3


Five stars

Frank Turner plays a lot live. To be precise, 2,294 times before Tuesday night’s gig at SWG3 in Glasgow. The former Million Dead frontman has performed in Sierra Leone, Vietnam and international waters. He recently performed in every US state for 50 days and last week used a day off from his UK schedule to travel to Lisbon for a show. If practice makes perfect, he should be pretty good at it by now.

Stepping onto the stage a little after 8 p.m., Turner quickly proves the old adage to be true. The opener to “Four Simple Words” begins with a delicate acoustic intro before backing band The Sleeping Souls enter the scene with a raucous ode to the power of punk rock.

In this spirit of rebellion, the crowd is told that there are only two rules for the show. Number one: don’t be a *** of the head – although we’re picky, there are several subclauses here – and number two: sing along if you know the lyrics.

Turner built his audience the hard way. It’s the 37th time he’s played in Glasgow, the first at the 13th Note Café in 2006, and although he’s only had one top 40, his last five albums have made it into the top three. As a result, there are many who know the words and execute rule two perfectly.

Frank TurnerFrank Turner at SWG3 in Glasgow

A fast-paced first third of the set passes quickly, with the anti-fascist anthem “1933” as a clear climax and “If Ever I Stray” bringing a sea of ​​applause. After “The Next Storm”, the Sleeping Souls quietly walk away to leave the leader alone on stage.

Turner straps on an acoustic guitar to introduce the next song, an ode to his late friend Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit. It will be, we are told, the first time he will perform the song in Scotland and sing “Scott!” Scott! Scott!” out of the crowd. Then it’s hushed attention as Turner recounts speaking to Hutchison from beyond the grave, “He was right there / even though he would kill me just for saying that / given that we’re both atheists.” When the song ends, the applause brings the house down.

A five-song acoustic set leads into the ferocious punk banger “Non Serviam” from recent number one album FTHC and the record’s first single “Havn’t Been Doing So Well” before the crowd is invited to pogo for “Polaroid Picture”. .

Turner can’t be blamed for not getting the job done: before the main set gets closer to “Get Better”, a stagehand is called in to clean up the puddle of sweat he left near the mic stand with a towel. It is this authenticity that is the key to the success of the forties.

Although there is a lot of wit in his lyrics – “musicians who lack friends to form a band are singer-songwriters”, he notes wryly on “The Ballad of Me and My Friends” – there’s also a lot of stuff that might look hopelessly corny in less skilled hands. When Turner sings “there are no rockstars, there are only people playing music” as he invites his audience to “Try This At Home”, it works because the plain meaning is that he means this.

The final song “I Still Believe” draws the biggest single to date, with a large crowd chanting “who would have thought/that after all/something as simple as rock & roll would save us all? “. Maybe guitars, drums and desperate poetry won’t be the salvation of the human race – but for about two hours on Tuesday night in Glasgow, I felt like it might be.

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Raymond I. Langston