Tonight saw Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls play at the Motorpoint Arena in the heart of Cardiff, being the penultimate night of his UK leg of the Be More Kind world tour, we were expecting big things from Frank et al and we can safely say that the audience didn’t go home feeling short changed!
Be More Kind has been a change for Frank Turner, gaining mixed reviews from both the hardcore fans and the new kids on the block. Some of the songs have been better received than others, and this lead to mixed feelings from Turner fans when the tickets were released for the arena tour, clocking in at around the £40 mark. Saying that, if you’ve ever seen Frank live before, you really do get your money’s worth so it was with a medley of excitement and interest that we stood waiting for the great man to take to the stage in Cardiff.
The introduction was mesmerising, everyone went silent and waited in awe and anticipation as to what would happen next…..and then, on came Frank Turner, with an unusual, but nevertheless amazing, way of beginning with ‘Out of Breath’. Everyone was on their toes, dancing and singing. A circle pit come mosh pit erupted in the front centre of the crowd and, although a short song, it was met with huge cheers at the end. Frank was showcasing a new lighting and effects engineer on the tour and boy, did it show, the effects were amazing, with lights bouncing everywhere and fire shooting up from behind the band. ‘Photosythesis’ followed, a slight change in the setlist order from the end-of-the-show-song that we are all so used to. As always, Ben Lloyd had an excellent guitar solo that made everyone cheer and brought a smile to many faces.
Turner’s next song was ‘1933’, the first of the evening lifted from Be More Kind which also saw him bring out the electric guitar. It was during this song that I began to notice some feedback from the music system, and Turner’s voice sounding an octave higher than normal through the speaker system. Nevertheless, the song went down a storm.
‘Recovery’ was next, followed by ‘If Ever I Stray’, with Turner back on the acoustic guitar, and the crowd still singing and dancing. A quick change then to the next song of the new album – ‘Blackout’. Turner started out guitar-less, performing his trademark dance moves, before coming down to the barrier to sing and exchange ‘high-fives’ with the front row. Then, during another excellent Ben Lloyd guitar solo, Turner dashes offstage, leaving us all slightly confused, before coming back on with his electric guitar and playing some excellent riffs. In yet another change from the expected, the electric guitar stayed out for ‘Polaroid Picture’. The song brought a couple of tears to people’s eyes, but were soon flicked away by the jumping around during the chorus.
Up next was ‘Brave Face’, another lifted from Be More Kind. The artwork visual was displayed behind Turner for this. The audience played the part of the gospel choir, as, in Turner’s words – “it was too expensive to bring them along”. I couldn’t see a single person not singing back, and yet again another incredible song. There were still a few audio issues here and there, mainly with feedback and a slightly high-pitched Turner, but it didn’t put a dampener on the mood.
First up from the ‘out of the ordinary bag of songs’ was ‘Mittens’. I’ve always heard mixed reviews of this song, finding it to be a real Marmite offering which divides the Frank Turner fanbase. Saying that, I didn’t hear or see anyone complaining, and I find its one of the ‘better live than studio’ songs of his. Either way, it was met with raucous cheers and applause at the end.
Cahir O’Docherty was welcomed onto the stage next. Some of the older fans might remember Cahir from Frank’s 2013 tour, when Frank injured his back and Cahir stepped in to play guitar. After a short introduction and thanks to the stage crew, Frank did a brilliant cover of ‘Eulogy’ in Welsh. It was safe to say that was the only song where there was few, if any, people singing along, but nevertheless it was great all along!
Then we had the next new song from Be More Kind, ‘Little Changes’, accompanied behind the screen with the infamous dance routine. Lots of people danced and sang along, and although we didn’t have Benny (the choreographer for the video) there, which some of the other arena shows did, it was still wonderful to watch.
‘The Road’, ‘I Am Disappeared’ and ‘Don’t Worry’ all followed, complete with great vocals, dancing and playing from the stage, and a great atmosphere from the crowd. The Sleeping Souls left the stage and suddenly, we just had the main man himself. Frank went into story mode, and told us all about how he had a request for the next song. He confessed he had to Google and re-learn the lyrics, and it was one he had played once in 10 years, one about his hometown. ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The One Of Me’ was played superbly, and although it was mainly the established fans who that were singing along, it was still a great song enjoyed by all.
This was followed by a solo, acoustic version of ‘Glorious You’, the singing picked up, with cigarette lighters and mobile phone torches held aloft and arms swaying side to side amongst the crowd. It was a really well performed version, and helped calm the atmosphere down, even bringing a few more tears to people’s eyes. After this, ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’ was given an airing,and featured by far, the loudest audience singing of the whole show. It was almost as if Frank didn’t need a mic for this song.
‘I Knew Prufrock’ was up next, with arms up in the air and singing along, The Sleeping Souls were welcomed back onto the stage. This was also sung by almost everyone, and was met with great cheers and cries at the end. This was followed by ‘The Next Storm’ and ‘Try This At Home’, where there was plenty of singing and dancing, good times all round!
For the (first) big finale, ‘I Still Believe’ was played, with the ‘Hear Ye’s’ displayed behind them, so everyone could sing along, before the call-and-response of ‘I Still Believe’. It ended spectacularly, with more fire and lights.
That was it for the main show, and ‘Be More Kind’ was the first song of the encore. It created a sea of phone lights and swaying arms, and people joined arm in arm in singing and spreading the message of kindness to one another. This was followed by ‘The Way I Tend To Be,’ embellished with a Matt Nasir mandolin solo, then ‘Get Better’ made an appearance before the PROPER big finish.
‘Four Simple Words’ started slowly, with Frank waltzing across the stage and standing up on his platforms, before the main part of the song where he did the classic crowd surfing. After the loop around the room, he cleared a space near the front. In a change from the norm, a lucky gentleman was picked to dance with Frank. It might have been the white-shirt black-tie combo that made it, but it surely was worth the watch. A final mosh pit ensued, before Frank was hoisted back onto the stage, for the closing section with sparks, flames and a cloud of pink confetti to end what truly was an amazing evening.
Until next time my friends, until next time!
A special thanks to all the staff for being helpful and approachable and to all of the crew for making it such a memorable show! I mentioned earlier about the £40 ticket cost, scrub that, it was worth every penny and more!
Please remember that Frank’s new book ‘Try This At Home’ is released on March 21st (Preorder available NOW).
UK festivals will be announced on his social media from Monday 4th February.
To listen to an interview that Steve Muscutt from musomuso did with Frank ahead of the show, please click HERE
Review and Pics by Ted Stargatt