Live Review: Frank Turner at Oxford O2 Academy – 20th October 2009

By on Wednesday, 21st October 2009 at 1:06 am

Frank Turner (side live)Last night was my first Frank Turner live experience. I was pointed in his direction by the marvellous Winston’s Zen earlier in the year, and since then he’s rarely been out of my top 10 most played artists of the week. Not entirely sure what to expect, I took my sister along to the (jam-packed) Oxford O2 Academy to check him out.

First support was the ace Beans on Toast. Normally first supports are a load of cack, but Beans on Toast rose to the occasion giving a strong collection of amusing anthems that were both topical and entertaining. Though I wouldn’t have minded if he laid off his “I’ve got a GCSE in Crowd Control” spiel which he seemed to use to fill the time between songs.

Next up were Fake Problems. They’ve been on our radar at TGTF for a while, (indeed, Steve reviewed their album back in March), but if I’m honest they just weren’t my sort of thing. Beans on Toast seemed to connect with the crowd much more (at least, from where I was standing near the mixing desk), and Fake Problems just went for the “deafen them into submission” approach. It sort of worked, but just wasn’t my cup of tea. Sorry.

Finally, 9:30 rolled around and Frank came on to one of the biggest cheers I’ve heard since that fateful McFly gig last summer (yes, I still don’t know why I was dragged to see them either…). I always forget just how many amazing songs he has – just about every song on the setlist was a crowd-singalong, from the opening trio of “Live Fast Die Old”, “The Road” and “Long Live The Queen” to the closing bars of “Photosynthesis”.

“Long Live the Queen” morphed itself into a celebration of life rather than the loss of a close one, “The Real Damage” a sing-along that most bands can only dream of, and “Reasons not to be an Idiot” became a jubilant exploration of our faults. Having the audience in his hand, banter was kept to a minimum (other than a quick introduction of his Mum who was watching on the side of the stage), Frank letting his songs do the talking.

Personally, the highlight was was a gorgeous cover of The Postal Service‘s District Sleeps Alone – completely different to his own songs, he re-vamped it and gave it a unique touch. Something I completely was not expecting, and one that summed up my evening.

Unsure of what to expect at the start of the evening, it turns out that Frank Turner may well be one of the UK’s best live performers at the moment. Entertaining, aware of the current climate and talented, he is one guy that I have firmly put on my list of  “bands to see again, and again, and again”, along with Bloc Party, Ben Folds, Idlewild, Friendly Fires and Delays.

Frank Turner‘s UK tour continues till next Thursday, with all dates (except Plymouth) sold out at the moment. After the jump: some pictures.

Frank Turner (live 1)

Frank Turner (live 2)

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4 Responses

2:50 am
21st October 2009

Golly, I wish *I* was your sister. Sounds like Frank was ace! Still waiting for him to grace a stage in Washington…

1:59 pm
21st October 2009

Good review – I agree with every word!
Most bands and singers come across as dicks, but Frank also has the virtue of seeming like someone you’d genuinely want to spend time with.
Insane sing-a-longs; I Knew Prufrock is the only example of a sing-a-long by and band I can think of which doesn’t even have a chorus!
Good to hear Smiling At Strangers On Trains too, as an old Million Dead fan.
all good stuff.

6:02 pm
23rd October 2009

Fake Problems is amazing and Derek the bass player is fantastic! Its about having fun, not juggling for applause. Dick.

[…] Frank Turner. The voice of a generation some might say. I saw him a few weeks back in Oxford, where he was pretty amazing and from all accounts his last few weeks on tour have been nothing […]

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