Protest songs and punk rock rung through the LCR as Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls brought the the Be More Kind world tour to Norwich for it’s final show on the 17 date run all around the UK. There are just not enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe how good, from start to finish, this show was.
The Homeless Gospel Choir
Kicking things off was The Homeless Gospel Choir, or Derek from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as he so regularly reminded everyone in the crowd. From the outset he captured the crowd with his quick wit and outrageous songs such as his opening song ‘With God on Our Side’ that has lyrics like ‘With God on our side, We can do whatever we want’ which as the song went on the lyrics became more serious containing themes such as slavery and homophobia.
Derek from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania managed to sing about serious themes and raise awareness but all along maintaining a light hearted demeanour that made each song more accessible yet thought provoking. He kept true to his beliefs whilst mentioning issues that are happening in America, sharing his thoughts on a Mr Donald Trump on several occasions as well as other topical issues currently happening.
To round off the set he took to a more personal outlook with his song ‘Normal’ describing how listening to Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ changed his life whilst bringing out fellow support act Arkells who helped with the song, ringing out the lyrics ‘You’re never gunna be normal, cause you’re a punk’ with the song talking about his discovery of music and punk rock.
Straight after finishing The Homeless Gospel Choir’s final song, Arkells claimed the stage, which is a little touch that I really appreciated. At near enough every show you go to, there will be a pause in between bands as their teams set up instruments and sound check lasting around maybe 30 minutes. This however, going from one support band to the other was such a clever way of linking the two, not allowing the energy for the room to dissipate.
Arkells soon erupted into their first song ‘Knocking At The Door’ with lead singer Max Kerman using every chance he had to dance and move around the stage, for the bands first appearance in Norwich, they really left a lasting impression with me just for their obvious passion and energy. Kerman in between songs mentioned that they are hoping to return in November and they are definitely a band to catch if you can.
As the band went into their second song ‘Private School’ they paused for a second half way through the song. With the lead singer mentioning that normally they would bring out someone who can play guitar to join them, but this time they found someone in the queue to get into the venue. Frank Turner himself soon appeared announcing himself as ‘Francis’ and grabbed an electric guitar to finish off the song.
The Arkells would then go on to finish off their set in an upbeat fashion with Kerman stating ‘All the best shows happen on a Friday, so as it’s a Wednesday lets bring up the energy to make it feel like a Friday’ and would then go on to play songs like ‘People’s Champ’ and ‘My Heart’s Always Yours’ with the lead singer not stopping to jump and move throughout. To even push things further, during ‘A Little Rain’ Kerman joined the crowd to get everyone singing to warm up for the headliners of the evening.
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
After two superb support bands it was finally time for the man himself, First off was The Sleeping Souls individually taking up their positions on stage, before finally Frank making his second appearance of the night, running out on to the stage launching into a track from his latest record ‘1933’ before going into a couple of older tracks ‘Get Better’ and ‘The Next Storm’ which straight from the off got the crowds voices singing.
Not long after his first three songs he soon addressed the crowd, asking a couple of important questions. The first, the standard, ‘Are we having a good time?’ to then asking to ‘Put your hands up if this is the first time seeing him’. With a surprising amount of hands shooting up which seemed to take even Frank back, he then listed a couple of mandatory rules for his shows. ‘Don’t let your fun spoil others nights’ and ‘If you know the words to a song, you better sing them loud’. This last one definitely goes without saying.
For the set itself it was the perfect mix of old and new, playing songs from his latest album such as ‘Make America Great Again’, which had red, white and blue lights accompanying to playing songs like ‘The Road’, ‘Recovery’ and ‘Reasons not to be an Idiot’. Showing off songs from a range of his albums, not being afraid to mix the old with the new. He even addressed the fact saying ‘People always ask for old songs, well I say, if you want old songs, then we shall fucking play some old songs’.
Between every few songs Frank wasn’t scared to let his personality come shining through, from welcoming everyone to show 2173, to talking about the struggles of reaching the top spot in the charts. Going off into a bit of a tangent he would go on to mention that when he released one of his albums, Michael Buble knocked him off the top spot, to then have the following record be knocked off by Dr Dre, which he goes to admit, they completely forgot about Dr Dre. This time however, Be More Kind is being kept from the top spot by ‘Hugh Fucking Jackman and Zak Efron’ as he so eloquently put it, with the soundtrack to ‘The Greatest Showman’. Although he mentions that the charts doesn’t matter, you could tell that this one may annoy him a little bit. A quick look on his social media feeds definitely confirms this.
All in all, this may have been show 2173 for Mr Turner, he treated it like show number 1, with his clear passions for music and performing being left all out on the stage for everyone to enjoy. To truly enjoy a Frank Turner show, knowing a few of his songs will work in your favour, because this is a show you just want to sing until your voice breaks just to join in and fully enjoy it.