To quote Frank Turner, ‘Let’s begin at the beginning’. What is the point of music? What is its purpose? You might want to make yourself comfortable for this one…
Music is a form of self expression set to a melody. It can be lots of other things. Let’s talk about what it should be though for the sake of this review. It should be inspiring. It should make everyone feel included. It should make people smile. It should lead to two members of the bands crew (brothers no less) having a crowd surfing competition that concludes with their mother deciding which half of the crowd has shouted the loudest. But I digress. I’m getting ahead of myself.
At the Doncaster Dome on Wednesday night, Frank Turner was playing gig number 1,982, but as he admitted, it was his first in Doncaster. By the end, he declared that despite being ships in the night in the past, we were now firm friends. Not just Frank and I of course, but everyone else who came out on an unforgettable night.
I counted twenty four songs and thousands of smiles, hundreds of gallons of beer and dozens of strangers hugging each other whilst grinning inanely. From the mass sing along of ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’ through to a breathless rendition of ‘Four Simple Words’, I have never seen any artist put on a show quite like this. Including the seven previous times I have seen Frank Turner live in the past.
And make no mistake. ‘Show’ is the only word to describe the evening. In the proper sense of the word. Turner has the crowd facing off against each other, he has a circle pit and a wall of hugs, he brings back both support acts for storming renditions of ‘I Still Believe’ and ‘Silent Key’ respectively. Those in attendance are encouraged to sing along, dance along and jump around and that is without mentioning a slavish Doncaster crowd all agreeing to do ‘jazz hands’.
The beauty of a Frank Turner audience is that it is so eclectic, so polite and just so bloody weird that it only enhances the ‘Us vs. the World’ atmosphere to fever pitch. As Turner points out, 2016 has not been the greatest year for humanity but for a couple of hours, in a massive sports hall, nobody cares.
Old songs such as ‘Long Live The Queen’ and really old songs like ‘Smiling at Strangers on Trains’ (a cover version of a song Turner wrote in his first band Million Dead) slot in seamlessly alongside numerous tracks from Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls most recent album, Positive Songs For Negative People. Acoustic numbers fit perfectly when juxtaposed with full band rock songs like ‘Out of Breath’. This is undoubtedly that rarest of beasts. A gig that has everything and something for everyone.
As the adoring Doncaster crowd shuffle out of the glorified sports hall, they know they have witnessed something truly special. Don’t leave it so long next time Frank!
*I was going to write a bit about the support bands who were both excellent but my GigJunkies colleague and friend Simon Saynor covered them so well in his own review that I urge you to read that instead.
This article was written for Doncopolitan magazine: