Frank Turner & Friends @Electric Brixton, 13/05/2016

Friday 13th may be unlucky for some, but seeing Frank Turner play England Keep My Bones at Electric Brixton may have been the best Friday 13th yet. In fact, screw Friday 13 superstitions. Supporting two amazing charities with an acoustic set of one of Frank Turner’s best albums (according to his fans) in London town is one of the best ways to show Friday 13th where it can stick its superstitions.

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The gig was destined to be special. Doors weren’t until 10pm, curfew not until 4am. It’s Friday, so what gives – bring it on!

Released in June 2011, England Keep My Bones was recently graced with a repress on vinyl for its five year anniversary (available at your local record shop). Despite the general assumption that it is a nationalist album, Frank reconfirmed tonight that it is indeed not exactly that. In fact, it is an album about his love for this country’s history and finding out where he came from.

Back to tonight’s gig. Electric Brixton is a 1,789 cap venue in South London known for their club nights. However, if you ever get the chance to experience the venue as a gig venue, I highly recommend you go.  Not only do you practically have a great view from every angle, the staff are super nice and the bar seems to hardly ever be too busy (this is a good thing!) – Electric Brixton also makes for a brilliant intimate show.

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Skinny Lister and The Wholls supported, and slayed (as the young people would say). I haven’t ever seen Skinny Lister perform and it not being an epic party. You simply cannot be in a bad mood when the six piece folk band are on stage. And Michael crowd surfing with a double bass is never ever dull. Just before their set is up Frank Turner joins the party with a mandolin and it’s probably the only thing this party needed to be any better.

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Frank’s set was wonderfully predictable – he promised he’d play England Keep My Bones in full and he delivered. In album order, too. Having seen my fair share of Frank Turner shows I can say that starting the set off with Eulogy set the mark for the evening. Every single soul in the room knew what they were here for, and hence, knew every word to every song. To be fair, you can pretty much assume with any Frank Turner show in the UK 90% of audience will know the words to most of the songs, if not all. Number 1 rule of every show: If you know the words, sing along. (Rule number 2: be nice to each other). Turner tells us that putting together a set list is entirely different to putting together the flow of an album. However, tonight it works. We know what we are in for, and quite frankly (excuse the pun) we can’t wait!

A total treat was also English Curse – a song not often found on Frank’s set list, maybe due to its acapella nature. Nonetheless, or maybe because of that, it echoed beautifully through Electric Brixton. The slight slip of lyrics made it even more endearing – don’t worry Frank, we got you.

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If you thought you were “only” going to hear songs off England Keep My Bones, you don’t know the man. After a brilliant run down song by song off the 2011 album, the hits demanded to be played as well. The Ballad Of Me And My Friends, Photosynthesis, The Road, Recovery and finally, Get Better – taking us back to the present. What an epic trip back in time with Frank Turner it was that night. And besides being a magnificent show, it was also one that did good. All proceeds go to CALM and the Music Venue Trust. So, let’s talk about those guys for a minute.

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CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) is a charity that campaigns to raise awareness for male suicide. According CALM, in 2014 alone 76% of suicides were among men and it is the biggest cause of death in men under the age of 45 in the UK. These quite scary stats. The guys at CALM offer help and support to men in the UK who feel suicidal, whatever the reason may be. They campaign to get rid of the social stigmas surrounding men talking about their feelings and asking for help. How you can help? First of all talk to your mates, pay attention to their behaviour, and if you feel down, talk to someone, anyone. Secondly, support charities like CALM so we can see those stats decrease. Lastly, help make those social expectations that men always need to be “manly”, “strong”, “not weak” a thing of the past. Let them know that talking about their feelings is okay, good even.

The Music Venue Trust – I wrote about these guys before (read here). They genuinely do some amazing work. If you love your live music, this is important for you. Music Venue Trust is on a mission to help save the UK’s live music circuit, especially small venues that are under threat by the ever growing greed for housing development. Too many venues had to close down in the past few years simply due to new developers’ noise complaints (silly, right?). As ridiculous as it sounds for anyone who loves live music, this is the reality for small venues. So go check them out, support your local venues, so we can all keep on enjoying the music we love.

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