Frank Turner @ The 02 – Preview

frank o2

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!

It feels the right time then, on the eve of Frank’s biggest ever UK date, to compile a Top 10 of my favourite FT 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, 31st March 2008.
The day his 2nd album Love Ire and Song came out, the first time many hear Long Live The Queen, a tribute to Frank’s late friend Lex. Not many dry eyes in the Brudenell that night. For me, subsequent Brudenell shows were always in this one’s shadow.

2. Wembley Arena, 13th April 2012.
FT 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. FT fans from all over the UK take the pilgrimage and pay an absolute bargain of £25 for WEMBLEY. I’m living in North London at this point anyway but wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

3. Leeds Student Radio, 21st October 2008.
Had to sneak this one in here. Whilst running my student radio station, we got FT in to do a quick session and interview ahead of his date at the Cockpit. I suggested someone else do the interview, but our Head Of Music insisted there was nobody else as keen, so I gladly obliged.

4. Outside, then inside Leeds University, 15th May 2008.
Ahead of his set supporting The Holloways, a fire alarm forces the whole of the union outside on a hot summers day. FT brings his guitar with him. Next thing he’s performing acoustically to literally to hundreds of students who haven’t the faintest idea who he is. When the all-clear comes, he then blows his friends in The Holloways off Mine Bar’s tiny stage.

5. Leeds Santiago’s, 5th March 2011.
FT rejects ludicrous claims of ‘selling out’ by playing a series of tiny shows. Luckily I know the promoter of the Leeds date and we race up from London on the, erm, Megabus. FT is taking requests for charity donations. I ask for ‘Worst Things Happen At Sea’, put £20 in and end up on stage. After the gig we tell FT how we’d come up from London after we couldn’t get in to a Camden show the previous weekend, he seems genuinely touched.

frank leeds

6. Leeds Festival main stage, 23rd August 2013
As soon as Bring Me The Horizon leave the stage, the heavens open and everyone hides, apart from a committed core of FT fans getting positively drenched. None of this mattered at the time, obviously. I interview FT 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. BBC Maida Vale studios, 24th April 2013
The day it was announced that I was joining Kerrang!, I was also lucky enough to win 2 tickets to this, going out live on Radio 1. FT plays for half an hour longer than Radio 1 had allocated, and only stops because of a flight the band have to catch.

8. Reading Festival, 28th August 2011,
FT’s first main stage appearance, becoming the only artist to play every stage at Reading, an accolade unlikely to ever happen to anyone 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, 17th Dec 2013
FT teams up with Billy Bragg on a December lunchtime in aid of Shelter, performing mainly covers and FT tracks. I become a Billy Bragg fan.

frank kx

10. Olympic Opening Ceremony, 27th July 2012.
Ok, not the best FT performance, clearly – nobody knows who he is! But for the sheer WTF factor, this HAS to be in there. (Disclaimer – I wasn’t actually there)

Not many artists can make it to arenas and stay there. Indeed, Frank has said himself that he doesn’t think he can stay at this level. Personally, I’m not so sure. It’s not like he has just appeared at the 02 overnight, it’s taken years of hard graft during which he has developed the most enviable of fan bases, and its still growing.

Whatever happens, one thing’s for sure. ‘TONIGHT I’m going to play it straight, I’m going to take my chance, I want to dance’. See you at the 02!