Frank Turner @The Union Chapel, 19/12/2015

Sorry for the delay in getting this up. Totally thought this had gone up already.  🙂

What a treat this was. As a die-hard Frank Turner fan, this was not only something very special, a dream come true and thoroughly enjoyable, but also in aid of a fantastic cause. Everything about this gig was absolutely perfect, and to date ranks as one of my top 3, only really topped by Frank himself and The Boss.

Frank’s show at Islington’s Union Chapel was one of many he has put on in the past in support of Shelter – a homeless charity in London. The guys at Shelter do some amazing work, they not only help London’s homeless (of which there’s way too many thanks to ridiculous rent prices), they also strongly support and push for change in rent prices, help with irresponsible landlords and more. So all in all, I was more than happy to pay my share for this show. Tickets could be won through a ballot only.

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Here’s the setting: The old Union Chapel, just next to Highbury & Islington Station, on a cold December evening, just before Christmas. The year had been filled with more Frank Turner gigs for me than ever, and this would be the perfect end to the year. It’s become somewhat of a tradition to see Frank before I fly home for the holidays. The church is all seated, which is the first thing that is different to the usual Frank Turner concert. The venue holds no more than 900 people and the sound is out of this world – as with most churches. The stage was barely set with anything and Frank, as well as his support acts, only used a guitar to fill the room with sound. How very beautiful this would be, I had no idea.

You can always rely on Mr. Turner to pick a fine selection of support bands fitting the occasion. Skinny Lister and Will Varley supported him on his UK tour just a month earlier. Tonight, new talent show case with Lewis Bootle (who we were all seriously impressed by) and an old treasure to Frank Turner fans – Ben Marwood. Ben Marwood’s return to the stage, if only for the one night was triumphant for sure.

As the Wessex boy takes the stage with just his guitar and a mic the entire chapel is aware that tonight, we are in for a treat we won’t soon forget. Frank makes it clear that this evening, he gets to pick the songs, and tonight he will play songs he doesn’t always get to play: “It’s my last show of the year, I’ve decided to play the songs I want to play”. Instantly a massive smile forms on many a face thinking: B-Sides!!

It all starts off with a strumming rendition of Broken Piano one of my personal favourites and a track from his 2013 studio album Tape Deck Heart, followed by another personal favourite from the new album Positive Songs For Negative People The Angel Islington. The tone is set for the evening. Acoustic gems and a bit of banter and chat. Just my kind of gig. Three covers, including The Outdoor Type, The Armadillo and Townes Van Zandt’s Pancho and Lefty, are also on the menu.

I could try and pick the best ones, or the special ones – but in all honesty, I’ll just post the set list and you can see for yourself how very special all of the songs were. Unlike most Frank Turner shows, although everyone knew the songs, there wasn’t too much singing along. However, when the last two songs bounced off the walls of the Union Chapel, even the best behaved Turner fan could not keep quiet. The Ballad of Me and My Friends and last song Eulogy rounded up the evening perfectly. A concert truly deserving of the venue it was held in and the cause it was put on for.

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