Frank Turner @ O2 Academy, Glasgow, 29 Jan
Frank Turner plays with the energy of a man determined to raise the roof wherever he goes, and tonight's Glasgow O2 Academy show is no different and a riotous success
At a packed out O2 Academy, Frank Turner rolls into Glasgow again. The Hampshire punk-turned-hardcore-folk-rock touring machine still divides critical consensus but he’s picked up a dedicated following along the way through a mix of relatable musings on friendship, ageing and the power of music, allied to a relentless work ethic. According to our hero, he’s played 2,304 shows over the past 14 years but he and his backing band The Sleeping Souls show no sign of slowing down as they rocket through opener Out of Breath.
A bit of energy is no bad thing after a supporting set from turn-of-the-millennium pop-punk middleweights Jimmy Eat World. The Arizona group are slick but a little generic in their stage banter and facing an audience who only really engage when they dig into tracks from their minor league pop-punk classic Bleed American. Self-acceptance anthem The Middle and the album's thunderous title track with its 'salt, sweat, sugar' refrain get the crowd moving, but ultimately Jimmy Eat World feel like they’re just passing through.
Frank Turner, on the other hand, plays with the energy of a man determined to raise the roof wherever he goes. Alternating between folky musings and high energy rock'n'roll, The Sleeping Souls deftly capture the energy in the room as thousands of voices sing along. Tonight, tracks from 2013’s Tape Deck Heart which prove the early highlights including a spirited Recovery and the live-for-tonight singalong of Polaroid Picture.
Midway through the set The Sleeping Souls depart, leaving Turner alone with an acoustic guitar for a couple of rarities – the folksy narrative of Undeveloped Film, the youthful naivety of The Ballad of Me and My Friends and a cover of Frightened Rabbit’s The Modern Leper, included as a tribute to his friend Scott Hutchison.
As befits a born crowd-pleaser, Turner is not immune to the odd mawkish moment – just see the awful Mittens for proof – but as he tells us about the tattoo he has inspired by Frightened Rabbit and urges the crowd to hold their friends close, it’s impossible to be cynical or doubt his ability to make a connection even in the biggest of rooms. With a closing run that includes Get Better and Be More Kind, Turner bids Glasgow farewell once more. He’ll be back, but until then, show 2,305 was a riotous success.