AFTER vigorous touring and promoting of his sixth studio album, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls hit the Manchester Academy for the penultimate night of their UK shows. Quays News entertainment reporter Nathan Smith was there…

Speaking to Frank back in August, shortly after the release of ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’, he spoke of wanting to take things easy. He said  he was looking forward to having his own place with his own records out on view and simply, relaxing. Following the performance witnessed tonight, someone is telling porkies.

Entering the stage to thunderous cheers and applause, Turner wastes no time in breaking out into the first track of the night ‘Eulogy’. The track, taken from 2011’s ‘England Take My Bones’, instantly gets the crowd up and rearing to go. Despite being released almost four years later, ‘The Next Storm’ follows the opener in a smooth flowing transition, like they were made for each other.

Over the years, Turner has become somewhat a voice for the hard-working musician, determined to go hard at every opportunity. Following the recent attacks in Paris, he takes a moment to address that himself, and those close to him, lost people due to the bombings. In classic Turner fashion, he remains defiant to stand down to the threats and unites the crowd in solidarity. He gets the crowd to lower to seating level and asks to “Just dance with someone you don’t know and just f*****g get up and bounce”.

The very platform of the incredible atmosphere in the academy should definitely be credited towards support acts, Skinny Lister and Will Varley. Varley gets the night started with his solo performance – which brilliantly combines comedy and guitar- whilst Lister introduce a hearty-chantey vibe to the Manchester crowd. Varley’s cleverly crafted comedy got the ball rolling for Lister to then indulge in an early stage dive, assisted with a double bass, obviously.

Thanks to the impact of all acts involved, the Manchester Academy was buzzing with excitement, chanting and fist-pumping to Turner’s more punk infused tracks such as ‘Recovery’ and ‘Love Forty Down’ plus a punked-up version of ‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’ ,thanks to the Sleeping Souls, Turner also proves he can switch the tone of a gig instantly. Following ‘Long Live the Queen’, the band then exit the stage and leave a now solo Frank Turner alone with a simple spotlight bearing down on him.

Suddenly, the gig becomes far more intimate as acoustic renditions of ‘Glorious You’, ‘Substitute’, ‘Love & Ire Song’ plus a special belated birthday treat for a guest in the form of ‘King Fish Blues’. “They asked me to play it at one of my previous shows, but I forgot it,” he explains. “But I’ve been googling my own lyrics and going over it so here it is”. After the first verse however, he stumbles with his lyrics. Following the nights positive atmosphere, he takes the mistake with a pinch of salt, simply laughing it off and continuing with the track. Shortly after leaving the stage following PSFNP’s ‘Get Better’.

Bringing the night to an end, the Manchester Academy demand an encore to which Turner re-emerges alone for another track in the form of ‘The Way I Tend To Be’. Leaving the tail end of the track to audience chanting, the overall tone of the night is brilliantly shown as he brings together the crowd in true solidarity, stepping back from the mic and leaving the crowd to do the work for him. Final track of the night came in the form of ‘Four Simple Words’ as the Sleeping Souls return for the last track. As the song finishes, Turner and the Souls go all-out in thrashing guitars, with the assistance of a spectacular light show, ending a truly mesmerizing night of positive atmosphere, leaving no negative people to be seen.

By: Nathan Smith

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