I have seen Frank Turner perform live more times than any other artist. This is, of course, in part, due to his relentless touring schedule, but equally because he’s a bloody amazing live act, and I rarely want to miss a gig!
With tickets going on sale to Frank’s November UK tour today, here are my top 10 favourite Frank Turner performances to date. (These are biased towards Leeds, since this is where I lived for my first few years of FT fandom!)
1. Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 31 March 2008
The day his second album, Love Ire and Song, came out, and the first time many would hear Long Live The Queen; a tribute to Frank’s late friend Lex. There weren’t many dry eyes in the Brudenell that night. For me, subsequent Brudenell shows were always in the shadow of this night.
2. SSE Arena, Wembley, 13 April 2012
Frank becomes an arena artist, albeit one most people have never heard of. I could not believe it when this was announced, and still don’t know how he managed it. Fans from all over the UK took the pilgrimage and paid an absolute bargain of £25 for WEMBLEY! I lived in North London at this point anyway but wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
3. The 02, 12 Feb 2014
After what now seems like the warm-up at Wembley, Frank and The Sleeping Souls come into their own and, in his own words, “learn to do arena shows”, taking all the lessons from the Wembley show and making things even bigger.
4. Outside, then inside Leeds University, 15 May 2008
Ahead of his set supporting The Holloways, a fire alarm forces the whole of the Union outside on a hot summer’s day. Frank took his guitar with him, of course. Next thing, he’s performing acoustically to literally hundreds of students who haven’t the faintest idea who he is.
5. Leeds Santiago’s, 5 March 2011
After rejecting ludicrous claims of ‘selling out’, Frank plays a series of tiny shows with the option of charity donations. After racing to the Leeds down, I request Worst Things Happen At Sea, donate £20 and end up on stage. Post-gig, we tell Frank how we’d come up from London after we couldn’t get in to a Camden show the previous weekend, and he seems genuinely touched.
6. Leeds Festival main stage, 23 August 2013
As soon as Bring Me The Horizon leave the stage, the heavens open and everyone hides, apart from a committed core of Frank Turner fans who get positively drenched. None of this mattered at the time, obviously. I interviewed Frank before the set and he tells me he’s about to announce an arena tour. I knew it was coming, but still couldn’t believe it.
7. Floodfest @ SXSW, Austin, TX March 18 2015
I watch the singer-songwriter win over hundreds of US fans in the scorching Texas heat. This set also marks the first time I hear Get Better – a standout track from the new album.
8. Reading Festival, 28 August 2011
This was Frank’s first main stage appearance, making him the only artist to have played every stage at Reading and Leeds Festival, an accolade unlikely to ever happen to many again. This is followed by a secret appearance in the ‘punk’ tent, ending with a rousing cover of Queen’s Somebody To Love.
9. Granary Square, 17 Dec 2013
Frank teams up with Billy Bragg in aid of Shelter, performing mainly covers and his own material on a quaint December afternoon. Subsequently, I become a Billy Bragg fan!
10. Olympic Opening Ceremony, 27 July 2012
Okay, not the best performance, clearly – nobody knows who he is! But for the sheer wow factor, this HAS to be in there.