Frank Turner made his return to a Northern Irish stage for the first time since 2013’s Cut The Transmission Festival, and any frustration that was built awaiting his return was certainly released at Thursday’s sold out show in the Limelight, Belfast. Support was from Derry band Waldorf & Cannon, who went down well with the crowd and are continuing to support Frank for his remaining shows in Ireland.
Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls came onto the stage at 8′ O’clock sharp and kicked off the night with “The Next Storm” taken from his latest album “Positive Songs For Negative People”. This rock anthem kicked off what would be a two hour set spanning right across Turners six records. After The Next Storm Turner transitioned straight into “The Road” from his 2009 album “Poetry of the Deed”. This track is a fan favourite of a huge number of Turner fans and so the performance of this song was accompanied by huge singalongs from the crowd.
Seven songs into the set, Frank was handed an electric for the first time that night. Frank joked with the crowd “I have an electric, I’ve been waiting my whole career to do this” before the band kicked into a short, impromptu cover of Ace of Spades by Motorhead. After this gem of a moment the band played an incredible rendition of Josephine, another track from the new album.
Frank returned to his acoustic for the next few songs, with some incredible performances of some of my personal favourite tracks “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous” from Love, Ire & Song & “I am Disappeared” from 2011’s “England, Keep My Bones”.
At about the halfway point of the set The Sleeping Souls briefly left the stage while Frank played three songs with just him and a guitar. First he played “St. Christopher Is Coming Home” which to be honest I felt was very underwhelming solo and would have enjoyed it much more if the full band played with him. He then played two old songs “Mr. Richards” and “The Ballad of Me And My Friends”. The latter of the two is another one of my personal favourites and his performance of it was definitely one of my favourite moments of the night.
Once the band returned to the stage they powered through another nine songs and I could not fault any of it. A highlight was during the performance of “Out Of Breath” Frank introduced the crowd to one of crew members and then challenged the crowd to crowd-surf the crew member across the whole room by the end of the song, a challenge which the audience of the Limelight easily accepted.
At the end of the set Frank and the band briefly left the stage before swiftly returning for an encore. The four song encore opened with a solo performance of “The Angel Islington”, the opening track from Positive Songs For Negative People, and closed with the incredible “Four Simple Words” during which Frank ditched his guitar and turned into a full on punk front-man, crowd-surfing throughout the performance.
Overall, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls played an absolutely incredible, 24 song set (excluding the four song encore), as musicians they are incredibly well rehearsed and tight, and Franks song-writing skills shine through live as much as they do on record. An absolutely great night, if Frank is playing a show anywhere near you it is not something to be missed.
1. The Next Storm
2. The Road
3. Losing Days
5. If Ever I Stray
6. Try This At Home
7. Peggy Sang The Blues
9. Polaroid Picture
10. I Knew Prufrock Before He Was Famous
11. I Am Disappeared
12. The Opening Act Of Spring
13. St. Christopher Is Coming Home
14. Mr. Richards
15. The Ballad Of Me And My Friends
16. Reasons Not To Be An Idiot
17. Glory Hallelujah
19. Long Live The Queen
20. Out Of Breath
22. Plain Sailing Weather
23. Get Better
25. The Angel Islington (encore)
26. I Still Believe
27. Four Simple Words