Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls at Northumbria University - 7/12/16

I realise that I've written a very similar post to this last week, but earlier in the year, when I saw that Frank Turner was going to be touring, I just had to buy tickets. I didn't mind about having to juggle work around 2 gigs in the space of a week - I just knew I had to go! Both J and I were ridiculously excited to go and the fact that it was in Newcastle, just an hour away from home, made it that extra bit more exciting.

I think if someone was to ask me who my favourite band/artist is, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls would be my answer. I've loved Frank for years, ever since I first heard Photosynthesis, and I just feel that he and The Sleeping Souls continue to get better - excuse the pun. It's so easy for me to get hooked on new music that they release and I'm first in line when a new video is uploaded. Granted, I haven't been a diehard fan since the beginning, like a lot of people, but I've never felt like an outsider at gigs or in the FT&TSS community as a whole, so new fans are always welcome!
So, Frank Turner started his career as the vocalist of post-hardcore band Million Dead, and then after they split in 2005, he embarked on a solo career which was primarily acoustic-based. When recording in the studio and during live shows, he was joined by his backing band, The Sleeping Souls, but they are now a permanent group. With Frank on vocals and guitar, Ben Lloyd on guitar/mandolin, Tarrant Anderson on bass, Nigel Powell on drums, and Matt Nasir on piano, they're just a recipe for success! All together, there have been six albums, three rarities compilation albums, one split album and five EPs, so you can tell that this is a band that absolutely works their socks off. In fact, J and I were talking the other day about how much they tour, and we wondered when the last time they had a solid week off was.

 Wikipedia describes them and their sound as folk, folk punk, acoustic rock and alternative rock, and I'd say that's pretty accurate! While their older stuff is a lot more loud and punky (although this is definitely something they were bringing back with Positive Songs For Negative People), their newer stuff is a lot more folk rock-ish. If that doesn't appeal to you, then maybe their lyrics will. Frank's writing is very raw and he often sings about things that people are afraid to delve into. For example, the album Tape Deck Heart was supposedly written and recorded after the collapse of a long-term relationship, so while Recovery is a fairly bouncy and upbeat song, the lyrics tell a different story. His words also have the power to cheer me up, no matter how foul of a mood I'm in. To make me appreciate my situation, I'll listen to If Ever I Stray, or if I want to feel like I conquer the world, I'll listen to Love Ire & Song. As well as cheering me up, he makes me feel proud to be British, which is quite difficult these days. Just listen to the whole of England, Keep My Bones, and you'll see what I mean. I've rambled on far too long now, so let's talk about the gig!
We had such a nightmare getting to the University. I'm someone that loves to be at a gig early so I can pick my spot and get myself pumped up for the night, so I made sure I was ready to go and I set off to pick J up from work. I arrived in decent time and waited patiently for him to finish. Then all of a sudden, it hit me - I'd completely forgotten the tickets! We tried to hurry back home, but of course, there was a ton of traffic, which resulted in us missing the first support act, Esme Patterson. We caught the end of her last song, which sounded great, but I was really disappointed to miss the rest.

That being said, we saw the whole of the next support act, which was Felix Hagan & The Family, and they were absolutely incredible! They were colourful, flamboyant and raucous, which made for a great show. They really knew how to get the crowd going and soon had everyone dancing along. I'll definitely be checking them out a bit more!

Then on came Frank and The Sleeping Souls, and the whole place just exploded with cheering and clapping. The atmosphere was absolutely electric, and it's really something to experience!

They played a really fab mix of songs, with everyone belting out to the older tunes, a wave of quiet filling the room for the acoustic solos, and energetic dancing to the newer songs. Experiencing it from the crowd was something special, but I bet to see it from the stage was even better. There were pits and a wall of hugs (instead of a wall of death), so the whole audience was interacting with one another.

Setlist - click the song to listen!
Silent Key (with Esme Patterson)
Song For Josh (Frank solo)
Hits & Mrs. (Frank solo)
Mittens (Solo encore)
Recovery (Encore)
Get Better (Encore)

Earlier on in the day, I'd seen Frank posting a number of tweets about the comments he'd seen on Facebook, talking negatively about the group, Safe Gigs For Women. Out of curiousity, I decided to take a look at the posts he was talking about, and I was shocked about what I was reading. There were comments from people saying that the group were just money grabbers, people saying that it "hadn't happened to them, so it isn't a real cause" and even worse. They couldn't understand how selling a wristband could make a difference, yet everyone has got to start somewhere, plus, they have to raise awareness somehow! I knew it was something he was going to mention during the gig, and he gave a real heartfelt speech about it. It was moving to hear someone in his position to talk about something so important, and he was met with thunderous applause. No woman or anyone at all should feel uncomfortable at a gig, and Safe Gigs For Women are moving towards that. I would really recommend taking a look at them, so click here to see their Facebook page.

Speaking of safety, things turned a little sour for us towards the end. There were a group of guys and girls behind us that had been quite rowdy all night - not 'rowdy' in the sense that they were enjoying the show, but 'rowdy' in that they were causing fights and encouraging a very drunk girl to keep drinking. It was during Photosynthesis that we had the last straw. One of the guys ended up with his hand around another guys neck, which resulted in a full pint of cider being thrown over us. I don't mean a little droplet - a full pint covered our backs, heads and faces, with some even making it into Js eyes. We ended up having to move from our perfect spot to the bar to get water to flush his eyes out, and then to the exit corridor for better light. While I understand that they might have been having a good time (or maybe not so good if they were having a real fight), I just wish they had respect for everyone else around us.

But we didn't let it get us down too much, as we enjoyed the end of the show from the exit corridor, where it was much much cooler. It was so sweaty and hot in the venue, so we were thankful for a bit of air. Even as we drove home, we raved about how great the show was, despite our cider-soaked clothes, and talked about when we'll see him next!
If you're a fan of FT+TSS and haven't seen them live, you absolutely have to. They are just incredible! Frank is such a showman and The Sleeping Souls are amazing musicians, so when put together, the show just works perfectly. The songs that I loved the most were Silent Key, which was just beautiful with Esme; If Ever I Stray, because the song as a whole just makes me super cheerful; Get Better, as it's such a belter; and I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous.

But if you aren't a fan and would like to listen to some of his music, I'd recommend Get Better, Oh Brother, Peggy Sang The Blues, If Ever I Stray, Try This At Home and Photosynthesis.There are loads more that I'd love to recommend, but we'd be here all day!

J and I had a wonderful night, and we can't wait to do it all again! Frank and The Sleeping Souls are the hardest-working musicians I think I've ever had the pleasure of seeing live and being a fan of, so do check them out - it'll be worth it!

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