First thing I want to say on this latest blog is a huge great big massive thank you to my friend Poppy for donating me and Jess tickets for this gig. The gig, which the more observant among you would have worked out was Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls album launch night at The Highbury Garage for his brand new album Positive Songs For Negative People. The gig was only announced two days earlier and you had to register to be entered into a draw to win the opportunity to buy tickets - which were only £5! Unfortunately Jess and I didn't win but Poppy did. She sadly couldn't make it but very kindly donated her tickets to us. She's a babe. Here's what happened.
Frank Turner's only support act this morning was PJ Bond. PJ Bond is an American singer-songwriter from New Jersey. Bond is a name that I've seen around for years but have never given him a listen. When he finally took to the stage at The Garage the first thing I thought was "oh he's American." All of these years of seeing his name dotted around and I never realised he was American. I found it quite hard to enjoy his set fully because there were a lot of people around me talking (very rude!) but from what I could hear was very enjoyable. His folk tinged americana music was very pleasing on the ears and I always enjoy someone on stage who is enjoying themselves. Good to finally see him.
While we waited for Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls to set up I looked around the room I was amused that this gig was announced as an intimate gig. I remembered The Smith Street Band at The Lexington from the week before and thought that was an intimate gig. I guess this is now an intimate gig for Frank as he's now playing Arena's all over the world. As this was an album launch show it was obviously very heavy on brand new songs from the new album but Frank promised he would play the hits as well. I have to admit I hadn't listened to any of Positive Songs yet so I can't really speak too much about them individually but I didn't really enjoy them all. He used an electric guitar much more than he has on previous album and gave songs more of a rock & roll feel. One song felt quite pop punkish and one had a definite Weezer vibe. First thing I did this morning was but that brand new album and I am really looking forward to giving it a listen. Of course the biggest reactions were for the hits. If Ever I Stray got a massive sing along at the beginning of the set. He through a surprise midway through the gig by playing traditional set closer Photosynthesis. During the section where Frank and the Sleeping Souls get the crowd to sit down ready for the breakdown a young lady, who for some reason was looking away from the stage asked me if I used Australian shampoo, that was the oddest thing I've ever been asked at a gig. I was very impressed with the crowd for the gig, everyone around was very friendly and looked after each other like they should. I've heard some people have complained about some of the shoving that was going on but for me that's part and parcel of going to a rock show. The folk doing said shoving should definitely be wary of people around them not wanting to get involved (and around me they were) but you shouldn't complain about being bumped into at a rock gig. It's all part of the sun. Frank and the boys were on top top form, clearly relishing being able to play some of their excellent new material and having some fun playing the classics. The Ballad of Me and My Friends was played which got a great response, as did I Still Believe and Recovery (which Ben Morse and Charlie Caplowe of Xtra Mile Recordings joined Frank and The Souls on stage to lead the crowd in some star jumps) The biggest reaction however was saved for the final song of the night - Four Simple Words. The crowd went absolutely nuts for it and so as soon as I got dragged into the pit (I'm calling this getting pit-napped) I lost it as well. Four Simple Words is a song that allows Frank to put down his guitar and really go back to his punk rock routes, prowling the stage and jumping into the crowd.
Having the rare chance to see Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls play a smaller venue was an absolute pleasure. At the end of his set Jess and I both agreed that this was the best we've ever seen him. It's amazing that he can now play such big venues such as Wembley Arena or The O2 but I'll always prefer a small sweaty show like this. Thanks to Frank for doing this show when he could have easily gone somewhere bigger and thanks again to Poppy for hooking us up with tickets. Fantastic set.