Frank Turner @ Shepherds Bush Empire

30th October 2009

Back in the bush, the entire DiR team descended this evening to catch a long term  favourite and ‘finally’ rising star Frank Turner. Thanks to Radio One rotation he’s now into the mid-sized theatre venues, which is no more than what he deserves. Thankfully he hand picked his own support bands, the first of which was Beans on Toast.

I will admit, I never really gave this ‘future sound of London’ rapper much of a chance. I was busy not paying attention and from what I heard his reggae influenced rhymes were stylistically shabby and suitable focused on the vocals I was not listening to. Given a more thorough examination he may prove worthwhile, for now he’s just another support band.

Frank toured the US with offspring last summer and made firm friends with a talented DIY punk/alt/country outfit Fake Problems billed as “The best band in America” by Frank Turner himself.

Fake Problems
Fake Problems

Fake Problems are a strange combination, simple production ethics, country roots and pop destinations. Their combination is really special! Vocals drip true Americana and melodies were all toe tapping stomp alongs.

Fake Problems

Pop rock is at the heart of what they do and with tracks such as Dream Team and Tabernacle Song you begin to see why they are here this evening. Some great songs here and there but for me they played too much unremarkable tracks from their first album. Having loved their latest effort It’s Great To Be Alive I was disappointed not to hear more. A fairly restrained performance but still highly enjoyable.

Frank Turner’s biggest headline show to date welcomed him to stage where he dived straight into the music playing to a massive fan outpouring of vocal support. It’s tough remembering when me and 200 others saw him not so long ago in Bristol when you look to the roofs and seeing them lined with Frank’s adoring fans.

Frank Turner

This evening with full backing band his sound was much more grand than usual but here in the live area it worked a treat. His vocals were spot on, focused and impassioned he spoke from his heart and poured every ounce of life into each politically driven word. Epitomised by his ode to his friend passed away Long Live The Queen, tonight he transformed it from a sullen and emotional ballad, into an uplifting rocker with its heart on its sleeve.

Frank Turner

His usual stage presence was lacking somewhat after a rapid fire first 3 songs he finally engaged noting that he’s just not used to there being so many people being there! Once into his stride though he was back at his storytelling best. Many a more pop classics followed such as Reasons to Be An Idiot, the political call to arms punk rocker dressed
in acoustic rags Try This At Home and the beautiful melodies of Fathers Day. His latest superbly infectious single heavily played by Radio 1, The Road, got the biggest reception with the entire venue hopping and singing as loud as they could. In fact I was shocked at the number of people in here who were mouthing every lyric all night, seeing as being a wordsmith is his biggest strength…I’m impressed!

Frank Turner

He decided to ditch the band for a short while as he sung acapella a ye ol’ English folk song. Beautifully sung and with another political Peasants Revolt slanted mesage. Band returning he finished out the evening with his first commercial successful single, Photosynthesis. “I won’t sit down, and I won’t Shut up, but most of all I will not grow up” his message and for tonight everyone forgot their lives and were immersed in a cracking show full of superb song writing genius and pop rock masterpieces. The entire DiR posse departed all in the same thing on their mind. Can we do it again?

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