Tuesday 24 April 2018

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Academy, Sheffield

Supported by Arkells

Frank Turner has probably introduced me to more new bands than anyone else through his support slots and tonight he does it again. Arkells Touring Band from Hamilton, Canada. A band with big riffs and catchy choruses, the perfect warm up act. They remind me a little of the Hold Steady although I’m not too sure why. Their boundless energy and enthusiasm perhaps and the way they get the crowd going. They goad the Sheffield crowd to be better than Belfast and are totally bemused when everyone starts tribally screaming 'Yorkshire Yorkshire' back at them. After a long pause he says I’ll take that as a compliment. Yes please do.

It's show number 2158 for Frank and he kicks off with new tune ‘1933’. It's a bit of a political moment for him, comparing our modern world of Trump and Brexit with the political landscape of 1933, the year the Nazis took power in Germany.

It is taken from his forthcoming seventh album ‘Be More Kind’, an album he says urges people to be more kind to each other. Something that isn't really a problem inside Frank Turner World where his live shows really are as friendly as they come. More of a shared community experience for like minded souls.

The live show itself is again top draw with Frank and the Sleeping Souls consistently brilliant music wise and with their usual full on engagement with the crowd.

Aside from the opener, four other tracks are played from his new album and all appear to be future classics in the making.

However, if I may be a little controversial, I do now get the feeling that Frank's gigs are well into a formula and the base set doesn't vary very much which is a shame.

Of the four 'oldies' that appear tonight that didn't last time I saw him at gig 2000 only one is a 'wow' moment. A very rare outing for the excellent 'The Fisher King Blues ' from 'Tape Deck Heart'.

Yes, the playing of 'Love Ire And Song' in the encore is also incredibly welcome but there is so much of his back catalogue that simply never appears any more, not even occasionally. While I'm not a huge fan of the mass stomp around tracks he now tends to favour such as 'Out of Breath' and 'Four Simple Words' ahead of some of the more nuanced numbers that are really his forte.

Still though, can't grumble too much, it was still a terrific night.

Frank Turner Setlist O2 Academy, Sheffield, England 2018, Be More Kind World Tour

Tuesday 10 April 2018

The Vaccines, Rock City, Nottingham

Supported by Dream Wife

Tonight it’s the ‘Vaccines’ at Rock City but first up are Dream Wife, an all girl band from Brighton, who I would say show definite similarities to Honeyblood but with more members. So obviously they appeal to me. They are a bit rawer and more punk rock than Honeyblood but no less riotously excellent for that.

We weren't actually sure we'd see the Vaccines again after what has been a turbulent year or two for them which included the loss of their drummer but here they are. They’re back and with a corking new album in 'Combat Sports' which is a real return to their roots after perhaps going off track in parts on their previous two records. 

In front of a long ago sold out Rock City, the band show that they have clearly got their mojo back. Their performance positively fizzes tonight aided in no small part by such a cracking selection of ridiculously catchy tunes. It is a set bookended the two excellent singles so far from the new record. The ferocious ‘Nightclub’ to open and the bouncy lively ‘I Can’t Quit’ to close.

In between Justin Young and co set a blistering pace, rattling off the numbers in very quick succession barely taking a breath. Sixteen of which have been listed as singles making this more of a greatest hits\non-hits tour than an album tour for ‘Combat Sports’.

Everything from their début single ‘Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’, the perhaps slightly irritating perfect pop of ‘Teenage Icon’, the brooding ‘Dream Lover’, their big ‘hit’ (number 32 you know) ‘Post Break-up Sex’  through to the traditional mass sing-along to the lovely ‘Wetsuit’ and that's just the first fifteen minutes. 

Their ode to Amanda Nørgaard naturally brings the house down and there’s even an outing for non-album single ‘Melody Calling’. Meanwhile the new music fits in seamlessly with ‘Out On The Street’ and ‘Take It Easy’ particular stand outs.

In all the Vaccines rattle through 19 songs in just over an hour. Then return to do another three including a wonderfully seductive ‘All in White’ to close. Gig of the year so far?

The Vaccines Setlist Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK Tour 2018