For over a decade now a diverse spectrum of topics have been chosen to form the backbone of Frank Turner songs. From sailors to tattoos, from rivers to Shakespeare, Frank has tackled it all. This set at Warrington’s Parr Hall would prove to be a voyage through his ever growing catalogue of hits, new and old, and even pulling out a few tunes he had previously shelved for his live shows.
Parr Hall, though not the biggest venue, serves a sterling purpose in Warrington. It provides some middle ground between Manchester and Liverpool, not to mention it is a gorgeous giving the perfect backdrop to show fusing Punk and Folk. Announcing this is 1992nd show, Turner gives a list of events in 1992 which are intended to prove this will be the best gig ever. Revealing this year saw Mr Blobby’s unveiling on TV and the release of Vulgar Display Of Power by Pantera has the crows expecting something special.
From the beginning its clear he intends this gig to be one which takes elements from both modern Turner and his classic shows. Walking onto the stage alone with an acoustic guitar he jumps straight into the intro of ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’, and is soon joined on stage by his band The Sleeping Souls in time to launch into the chorus.
Perusing the journey through the many stages of his sound, Turner’s five opening songs represent five different albums, and five very different sounds. There is a constant hopping between in-your-face guitar riffs, acoustically driven heart throbbers, and ones which slot in somewhere in between, snarling and spitting at the world but over a subtle backing sound. This mix really takes your breath away, always guessing what is coming next, and it’s never disappointing.
By the time the set finally seems to slow into some rhythm we are over half way through, and it comes in the form of a run of songs performed by just Frank and his acoustic guitar. This is what makes each Frank Turner set special, as he picks out four tracks from the back catalogue to perform, three of which I have never seen him perform in five previous experiences. On this particular night we are treated to ‘St. Christopher Is Coming Home’, ‘Balthazar, Impresario’, ‘Isabel’ and ‘Love Ire & Song’.
His four set encore is dominated by one strange but impressively organised ‘Wall of Hugs’. On reflection it sounds cringe worthy to say those words, but how it was introduced as an attempt to show there is somewhere that hate doesn’t dominate after the year 2016 has been. A fitting end to a show which through all the changes of pace carries an underlying message throughout that the world is going to kick you in the balls quite often, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all love each other and take refuge from the shitstorm of life in each other’s company.