Frank Turner at the Royal Albert Hall, London

So here is the 3rd and final post about my “Fank Turner in London Week 2015”

After bumping into Frank outside the pub around the corner, the day actually couldn’t get any better, but Frank and the Sleeping Souls really tried their best to convince me otherwise :-) Seriously. It’s been such an amazing show. It was my 10th Frank Turner gig (counting the converstation/solo acoustic performance nights as gig) and the best one I’ve ever been to. It felt like all stars aligned that night.

The Royal Albert Hall is such a beautiful venue. There is so much history and beautiful architecture and decor. On Saturday, the day before the gig I did the grand tour of the building and learned a lot about it, which made me appreciate Frank playing there even more. It really is an accolade. Most interesting fact from the tour: For the first 100 years or so the acoustics weren’t very good, until they installed large fibreglass discs all over the dome, which now reflect the sound perfectly all around. Fascinating, isn’t it? And the sound that night really was incredibly good in my opinion.

These discs can be seen in one of my photos, so I might just share them here right now, before I go on and on and on about the gig. (Click to enlarge etc.)

The show started really strong with “Four Simple Words” and “The Road” and the audience was fantastic, at least in the front stalls where I was sitting and down in the standing room. They were singing and dancing along from the start just like I hoped they would. Because it means I didn’t stick out by dancing and singing along non-stop, because that’s what I want to do at a Frank Turner gig. What other reason to go to a gig is there anyway ;-)?

The setlist continued pretty awesome with his “classics” of course and a few new songs, but also some rarer older ones, which made this gig really special, because I don’t think I’ll see him play most of those rarer songs anywhere else soon. He played “Substitute” for instance, which made me incredibly happy, as it’s one of my favourite songs, but I can’t remember having heard him play it live before. If I think/talk about what I love and admire about his songwriting “Substitute” is my go-to-song to explain it, because lyric-wise and in regards to stylistic devices it’s all there. Blatantly sometimes even, I think. But oh so good!

Near the end he played “Long Live Queen” of course, which he does at every gig, but that night it was special, as it’s a song about his friend Lexie who had died from cancer a few years ago. He paused before the last singalong to talk about it and to give a special shoutout to the important work of the Teenage Cancer Trust and it was a really moving tribute on that occasion.

I was so happy the set included four new songs and especially “Get Better” very early on  and I really did sing and dance my heart and soul out to it. He also played “The Next Storm” and “Out of Breath”, which I had heard live before and liked, even though “Next Storm” sounds a bit different in the final full-band arrangement now, which I have to get used to. I like some of the changes, others I like a bit less. Anyway, it’s a great song. He also played “Angel of Islington” which I didn’t know before. I liked it, but I would have to listen to it a few more times before I could say if I even love it.

So “Get Better” was a huge highlight for me and another was that he played a request that night, even though he usually doesn’t do requests. But “this request came from someone special. My goddaughter is in the room tonight. Eva Mae, this one’s for you” *sigh* I’m so glad I found a great clip of that on youtube.

Eva Mae wasn’t the only one of his family and friends who was there. A few other people got shoutouts as well and I’m a sucker for that kind of stories/interactions. At some point he explained that his participation in this year’s Teenage Cancer Trust Gigs was rather short notice and once they had worked out the details and he had said yes, it was announced right away.

“That afternoon my mum called me and said: ‘You’re playing the fucking Albert Hall and didn’t tell me?!?!’ Well, to be honest, she didn’t use those words. She doesn’t swear. But it definitely felt like that on the receiving end.”

LOL. But then he made the audience gave a huge round of applause to his mum. One of the Souls (Tarrant or Ben?) mentioned that his mum was there tonight as well, so she was celebrated as well. “Let’s just hear it for all the mums”

Frank also said “Sorry Mum” before he played “Glory Hallelujah”. Nice. And his brother-in-law also got a shoutout, when Frank played electric guitar during “Get Better” for the first time on a UK stage. He talked about how he plays electric guitar on quite a few songs of the new album and how probably some people will have objections to that and might now heckle him about it. “Like my brother-in-law, he’s here tonight somewhere. Ok, Paul, let’s just hear it.” which was answered by someone up in the boxes (?) very loudly yelling “Judas!” LOL

Several times over the course of the whole evening Frank talked about how he felt playing the Royal Albert Hall and to me it seemed like his emotions ranged from “This is pretty cool” to “This is so nuts!” Which probably sums it right up. After all he was in a hardcore band once and then he started out as a guy with his guitar, singing songs to a handful of people in a pub or tiny underground clubs. And to play these songs now in these hallowed halls was just crazy. Or like he put it: “It’s on top of the list of maddest things that  have happened to me yet”.

And of course he had to play “The Ballad of Me And My Friends”. I think he introduced it with something like: “It’s a song I wrote a long time ago when I was singing my songs at a tiny club in front of a handful of people. It was not written to be played in a room like this. [Pause] Which is *exactly* why we’re going to play it now.” 

It was such a memorable moment. I mean: to have 5000 people sing “None of this is going anywhere” in the “fucking Albert Hall” is pretty awesome! I’m so happy and grateful that I was able to be a part of that show. And he ended it with a roaring “I Still Believe”, the song that started it all for me and that was really cool as well. So, yeah, definitely a night to remember. (Thanks to all the youtubers catching this)

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2 Responses to Frank Turner at the Royal Albert Hall, London

  1. Paul Mac says:

    Nice review!

    My recollection is that it was Matt’s mum who was there and got the shout-out. I can’t swear to it absolutely, but I was sober at the time. :)

  2. Susanne says:

    Thanks! Might as well have been Matt’s mum, I only remember it was one of the guys on stage LOL Was a lovely thing to do regardless…

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