James Smith 27/12/2010
BRIXTON ACADEMY- 12/12/2010
Frank Turner's rising musical mission is never-ending, in the past five years he has released three studio albums, played a staggering nine hundred and seventy five shows, supported the likes of The Offspring and Green Day in arenas and stadiums across both Europe and North America.And tonight he has sold-out Brixton Academy in what is the biggest headline show of his career. But whilst his tireless crusade continues to outgrow itself, I have recently found it all slightly tiresome. 'Poetry of the Deed' rarely captured me and seemed rushed in places, even the brilliance in which 'Love, Ire and Song' was crafted had begun to lose its touch on me. I wouldn't bore you with my own opinion if I didn't feel that there were others who felt the same. And so, as I sat there and waited for him to join me after his nine hundred and seventy-fifth sound check, I pondered; had Frank, as nice and charming as he was, pushed his career as far as it could go?
If so, then no one has told this to the man himself. When Year Six of the Frank Turner musical revolution begins in January, Frank will be going into the studio to record album number four, and he does not intend this project to be any major departure from previous work. 'It won't be too much different. Having said that, I think 'Poetry of the Deed' was more on the rock side of my sound, whereas this one will probably be more folky. So, for example, I've written an acapella, which I may (And indeed did) do tonight.' Based on the folk tale of the curse of old 'St John' and its mythological responsibility for the vengeful death of the son of William the Conqueror in the woods of his local Hampshire, it certainly places a more folk mystique around his sound. 'Lyrically I think it's been a bit different, I feel like I've written enough songs about drink, drugs, and being on tour. I seem to be dealing with mortality a lot on this record.'
This theme certainly is present in the, thus far, promising performances of 'I Am Disappeared'. It helps rejuvenate his work without completely re-branding his sound, after all, the subject of mortality is hardly a million miles from the norm 'We must squeeze and saviour absolutely everything from every single moment of life' is Frank Turner message. 'I have also had the luxury of more time to write this record as well, so I think that will help.' It would appear that this slight pause to re-think could be exactly what is needed to keep his career powering towards Rock (Sorry, I mean Folk) stardom. When asked the tough question, 'How much further do you feel you can push your career?', Frank seems just as uncertain as I, but he believes that life is an adventure and he will enjoy everything that comes his way. 'Every day I wake up and remind myself that life is too short, there are enough things to do on this planet to fill a thousand times. If you had told me ten years ago that I would now be a folk singer I would have said you were crazy. I have no idea how much longer I will keep it up to be honest.'
Asked if he had any regrets in his career, he was fairly dismissive; 'I don't really like looking at it like that. There are things I know now that I didn't know when I started out, but I think that the process of learning is a good and fun one. Perhaps that I had taken more care of my mental and physical health over a certain period of my life.' (Presumably during the difficult and fraught break-up with Million Dead and transition to beginning his solo career from the very bottom, although I won't ask).
The man has come an awfully long way, before beginning his legendary anthem, 'The Ballad of Me and My Friends', he declares that he 'wrote this song before my very first show in front of four people in a pub, and now I'm playing it in front of five thousand people at Brixton Academy.' The show does have an emotional edge, and as pretentious as it may seem to attempt to take possession of the fruits of someone else's labours, I have never felt so much empathy and heart warming pride in watching someone else bask in their own hard-earned success. Indeed there is no one in the music industry who deserves it more, the man has earned every single clap he receives, as Benjamin Lloyd, his live guitarist, pointed out, 'I don't think there is anyone who works as hard as Frank does, he sets a good reminder to us all of what can be achieved through sheer determination and hard work.'
Tonight, Mr Turner yet again puts on a great show and reminds us of the true nature of his talents. Even if the artistry of his recorded work doesn't always grab my attention, as he proclaims, 'If someone were to ask me for a job description, I would say that I was an entertainer.' Frank's strength of stage presence and the passion with which he performs brings out a very special, warm atmosphere and energy in the crowd that very few could beat. It helps breathe new life into the songs which I have heard a million times, know inside out and have otherwise grown a little tired of, as he expresses in 'Nashville Tennesee', 'I know I don't break new ground, many have travelled this sound/ But I try to make a sound my own'. Million Dead did break new ground however, and remain one of the most underrated and innovative post-hardcore bands of the new millennia, and I do sympathise with many of the Million Dead cult fanatics who may have resented his career choice. As I watch him close the biggest show of his career with the altogether catchy and poppy hit 'Photosynthesis' to a brand new set of fans, a little part of me would love to see him burst into a brutal rendition of the 'Rise and Fall', but I know that this is not what Frank Turner is today, and neither should it be. One should not hold anything but great admiration and respect for what he has now
We will have to wait and see what album number four and the next couple of years bring to Frank Turner. But regardless of what happens, he will forever remain one of England's most talented entertainers, and should continue to enjoy it without a single grain on his conscience. The man will carry on singing until someone takes that microphone away from him, and probably after too.
Frank Turner's most recent EP 'Rock & Roll' was Released on the 6th December through Xtra Mile Recordings.