Frank Turner has rocketed from obscurity to triumphant popularity in the past few years. In 2012, this one-time frontman of a post-hardcore band played in the Olympic Stadium prior to the Games’ opening ceremony. He has graduated from the toilet circuit to play the country’s biggest arenas. Despite the weather’s best efforts, we made it to Plymouth and the collapse of the Dawlish sea wall was long forgotten by the time we entered the cavernous main hall at the Pavilions.
A live set from Frank Turner is a whistle-stop tour through his career, dipping into each and every one of his releases. He lifted from his breakthrough England Keep My Bones and its 2013 follow-up Tape Deck Heart in equal part and dug out the crowd-pleasers from his back catalogue. He takes great pride in his strenuous touring schedule, noting from the stage that we were witnessing his 1526th show as a solo artist.
Although every track was welcomed with open arms by the fervent crowd, Turner is at his best when he hits his big sing-alongs. Luckily, he has a penchant for writing anthemic choruses and they were performed in great number. The set started with the boisterous Photosynthesis, a song seemingly designed to be an opener as it aptly proclaims it is “the perfect way for the evening to begin”. From there, the energy did not let up save for a few ballads like Eulogy, but even these moments captivated the 4000-strong audience. Of course, his standout hits I Still Believe and Recovery elicited the most thunderous sing-alongs of the night but the atmosphere was so elated throughout the evening that there truly were no dips in audience interest.
The most accurate adjective to describe Frank Turner’s music is fun, something which seems to be his whole modus operandi. His 1500+ shows worth of experience is evident as he charms the crowd with quips about his past shows in Plymouth and the atrocious weather being suffered around the country. Commanding one of the most passionate fanbases I have ever come across can’t be too taxing for him either: even the deepest cuts from his first albums were met with audience members universally belting out the lyrics.
On Twitter recently, Turner has received flack for not filling out arenas from fans that prefer the intimate venues he used to visit. He responded by saying that, in Nottingham (where he failed to sell out the Capital FM Arena) he had actually sold tickets amounting to four times the capacity of his usual stop-off Rock City. Although there is a charm to intimate venues like Cavern, Turner’s inclusive argument for arenas makes sense. It is a happy benefit, then, that huge rooms befit his boundlessly anthemic and fun live set.