By Max Modell
Frank Turner has been a prominent feature in the soundtrack of my life for years. Scoring heartaches, holidays and some of my happiest memories. Yet, until last Saturday I hadn’t been blessed with the opportunity to see him perform with his band, The Sleeping Souls. I saw him perform an acoustic solo performance at Victorious Festival 2017, which while incredible felt like a terrible tease for something I would have to wait a further year and a half to experience. Needless to say, show 2308 did not disappoint the electric Cardiff crowd.
Frank Turner headlined a packed bill of great musicians, being supported by Grace Petrie and Jimmy Eat World. Grace Petrie brought good humour to her left-wing queer protest songs, and they were a joy to behold, perfectly setting the tone for the evening for all of those who had arrived early to get the prime spots near the front of the arena.
Jimmy Eat World followed, opening with screaming guitars and refusing to shut them up until their short set was over. If Grace Petrie set the thematic tone for the evening, then Jimmy Eat World brought the energy. A throwback to the early noughties and I don’t think there was a single person in the arena without a smile on their face as they performed ‘The Middle’, even if that was the only song they knew.
While both fantastic, neither Grace Petrie nor Jimmy Eat World could hold a candle to Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, who confirmed this with their opening number ‘Out of Breathe’, the ramshackle arrangement which starts at 300mph and doesn’t slow down until it ends, coming in at just over 2 minutes, it is breath but beautiful, in the most chaotic way and the perfect show openers.
This was followed by a familiar setlist which I could sing every word to with highlights including ‘Recovery’ and ‘Polaroid Picture’. Things then took a delightful left turn as Frank sang a version of ‘Eulogy’ translated into Welsh, no mean feat. I don’t speak Welsh, but to me, it sounded like he smashed it and it certainly took a patriotic reaction from the audience.
After a few more classic tunes with the Sleeping Souls, Frank then performed a few solo numbers, reviving ‘This Town Isn’t Big Enough for the One of Me’, such a deep cut that Frank confessed to had to google the lyrics. This was followed by the heartfelt ‘Glorious You’, written for his cousin when she was going through a hard time in her life, a song made even for beautiful by the story behind it.
The show then drew to a close with as the band returned ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’, a song which I enjoyed even more having seen Beans on Toast earlier in the week who is referenced in the song. The band then ended strong on ‘I Still Believe’, a song which truly celebrates the power of music. This was reflected in the strong voice of the crowd, who had found their singing voices by this point in the show.
However, this wasn’t it and everyone knew it. After a minute or two off stage, they returned for the encore. As they started to play ‘Be More Kind’ something truly profound happening, everyone began to put their arms around each other, uniting the crowd. Next came ‘The Way I Tend to Be’, a song that means more to me than I can put into words. It was at this point the inevitable tear came to my eye.
After ‘Get Better’ came the opening chant of ‘Four Simple Words’, “Because we’ve all so very 21st Century, you’re probably listening to me on some portable stereo”. This was it, the moments I had been waiting for for four years, the ultimate folk punk song. Starting slow, before building into an anthemic punk song as Turner screams “I want to dance, I want to dance!” along with the rest of the audience. The song was made for live shows and leave you on an enormous high. I couldn’t have wished for more.
The show truly felt me speechless. Although, that was mostly because I had lost my voice from singing my heart out. I had no doubt Frank Turner would deliver and I am overjoyed to tell you he truly tore the roof off the Motorpoint Arena.