Underground Festival - The Jailhouse, Hereford - 25.05.2008
I first heard Frank Turner support Biffy Clyro at a gig a few years back, instantly realising that it was the guy from Million Dead, a band that I had religiously followed throughout my later teens.
As soon as he began to play I was hooked by his honest lyrics and a few years on it still hasn’t changed.
Queue the tiniest venue I have visited in a very long time; The Jailhouse appeared to be struggling for space. Before I arrived at the festival I had a feeling that the venue would seriously misjudge how many people would turn up for Frank Turner, as I had seen the massive turn out for previous gigs that he had played. With Frank Turner headlining on the second stage, we arrived realising that the second stage was not much bigger than the average lounge.
An hour before his set was due to start a queue at the bottom of the stairs to the tiny room had already started to form. People appeared to be abandoning the main stage headliners to queue up for what was about to be a very intimate gig. I was shocked at the volume of people queuing, as at the beginning of the day it seemed to be a competition between who had the tightest jeans and who could back comb their hair the most.
By the time Frank Turner was about to start at 10:30pm everybody had appeared from out of the woodwork and people started to look panicked that they would not be able to fit into such a small space. When we eventually were let upstairs the air was charged with excitement. Frank appeared with just his guitar, a microphone and a pint of what he told everyone was whisky. As soon as he appeared the crowd was fixated on what song he would open with.
Opening with the first track off his latest album, ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’ it was an instant crowd charmer. One of the most outstanding tracks off his new album the crowd sang along with enthusiasm. Whenever I see Frank Turner live he always creates an exuberant and fiery atmosphere, and tonight he did not disappoint.
Following with ‘Nashville Tennessee’, the fans roared with excitement that he was playing some of his older stuff rather than focusing his whole set on his new album. The mood appeared to change as soon as he began to sing ‘Long Live the Queen’, a track from his latest album dealing with the death of his close friend. The deep emotion behind the song was projected through the intensity of his vocals, it was clear that he was singing about an honest subject that had personally affected him. Struggling to hold tears back I felt a lump at the back of my throat, a clear sign that it was a moving and heartfelt song.
Playing a mixed set of new and old songs it was great to hear a cover of one of my favourite tracks, ‘The District Sleeps Alone’ by The Postal Service. “If you know this song then you should go and buy some skinny jeans” sniggered Frank. It appeared that only a few people recognised the song yet everyone appeared to enjoy it.
After a sweaty hour-long set he closed with ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’, which encouraged a sing-a-long amongst the crowd. Leaving feeling satisfied with such a brilliant set I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed that he hadn’t sang his landmark track ‘Thatcher F****d The Kids’ but then you can’t have everything. It is clear that Frank has broken the barrier of an upcoming artist and I am almost positive we will be seeing him play some of the larger venues in the country.