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Frank Turner – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 24.08.2019

While the majority of Leeds’ music loving masses are nursing sunburn and hangovers at Leeds Festival on this hot, hot Bank Holiday weekend, just up the road a few hundred Frank Turner fans have packed into The Brudenell Social Club to witness a couple of intimate acoustic shows celebrating the release of the troubadour’s new long player ‘No Man’s Land’, which currently sits at number 3 in the album charts.

The Brudenell, in conjunction with Leeds independent record shop Crash Records, have recently been holding a series of album release shows from high profile artists, including the likes of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Suede. The only way to get a ticket was to pre-order the album on the format of your choice. £23 got me the album on white vinyl and a ticket to one of two intimate shows that Frank is playing today.

A great way to encourage fans to buy the product, rather than just streaming it and helping to keep small music venues alive when many are disappearing. And it also helps to make the release of an album something special, an event even, and that’s the way it should be. Is this a growing trend? I sure hope so.

Frank Turner has a reputation for high energy shows with his band The Sleeping Souls. While he may be used to arena shows these days, Frank has no trouble whipping up a crowd in this intimate venue.

The new album is a concept album that tells the tales of important, but forgotten women in history. From obscure tales of the likes of Jinny Bingham and Dora Hand, to more well known women such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The songs are bare bones and sparse on record, so actually perfect for this setting. We listen intently to his every word as he strums and sings. He introduces each song with the background story, in his charismatic and witty manner.

‘The Death Of Dora Hand’ is epic, first single ‘Sister Rosetta’ beautifully understated and in complete contrast ‘The Lioness’ is full of Punk attitude and energy. The only song on the album that nods its head to the songwriter’s Punk rock roots.

There is audience participation, there is laughter and there is a sense of camaraderie, as Frank Turner is an artist who makes you feel involved at his shows. His recollections of researching and writing these songs are witty, his playing immaculate and his vocals full of passion.

Most here seem to know the words already, but for those who don’t actually have the album yet, there are plenty of live favourites to follow. ‘I Still Believe’ is my personal highlight, but the likes of ‘The Next Storm’ and ‘The Way I Tend To Be’ incite mass sing-alongs. Anthems, Frank has plenty of ‘em!

No encores, no messing about, he closes with the epic feelgood ‘The Ballad Of Me and My Friends’. With its chanting “we’re definitely going to hell” refrain sung back to him with the passion and volume of a football match strong crowd.

I leave my first Frank Turner show realising exactly why this Hampshire-born songwriter headlines arenas around the world. An epic night for sure and one everyone who witnessed it will remember for years to come.

Review - Ben Hughes

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