Last night was a little bit special. To celebrate Ben Morse’s photo exhibition of 8 years on the road with Frank Turner at House of Vans, Frank took the stage and the whole shindig ended up being something close to heaven for Frank Turner fans.
The lucky ballot winners gathered underneath Waterloo station, in the old Vic tunnels where Vans created an indoor skate park extraordinaire which also functions as a music venue and exhibition space. Here’s the thing: with Frank Turner you are guaranteed an amazing show full stop. But you know it will be extra special when it’s a venue like this, and for a celebration like this one. Support from none other than Mr Ben Marwood – a choice to make this whole evening even more of a family affair.
Before the show we take a walk around the exhibition and start a trip down memory lane – discovering all the shows we’ve been to, the photos we’ve seen and loved, the ones we haven’t seen and love even more. One of Frank lying in the streets of Islington after the album release show at The Garage last September, one of the sea of lights at Alexandra Palace last November after the Paris attacks – both give me chills for different reasons. And there’s tour flags, set lists, AAA passes and more giving every die-hard Turner fan all the feels and slight jealousy for not being able to have this room forever to go back to. But it’s only here until the 31st July.
Already delving into our own little Frank Turner world before the gig even kicks off makes it not only immersive as an experience as a whole but intensifies what’s to follow.
Everyone gathers in front of the stage, views are great from any angle and off Frank goes with I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous. It couldn’t have been a better set list if someone had hand-picked it in advance. Instead, Frank make sit up as he goes along, resulting in a glorious combination of old hits and new loves. Crowd interaction is on point as usual – Frank tells us about his love for white wine with ice (and makes up a new song about it in the process), about his non-existent talent at sports (except the outstanding averageness at tennis which he had to hide in his new video for Love Forty Down), and about how songs sometimes change meaning from when they were first written/recorded such as Demons.
Just before Substitute echoes through the room Frank tells us the song was originally written as an anti-love song, who needs love if you have music? However, tonight a starry-eyed Frank is in a happy relationship and we couldn’t be more thrilled for him. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I got my heart broken nothing was better than turning Frank Turner up to ignorant levels and listen to “the words that you knew but they still made you choke”. And because of exactly those words, which we knew came from past experiences less than pleasant; it’s like seeing your friend who’s been hurt over and over again finally finding love.
Towards the end of the official set time everyone, including Frank, is having too much of a good time for the show to end just yet. So he plays on. “One song from each album – 6 more songs”: The Real Damage (Sleep Is For The Week), Photosynthesis(Love, Ire & Song), The Road (Poetry Of The Deed), I Still Believe (England Keep My Bones), Recovery (Tape Deck Heart) and Get Better (Positive Songs for Negative People). What a way to finish a show to celebrate an exhibition all about the last eight years on the road.
Shout-out also to the venue: the staff were all so friendly and helpful. The venue itself is one of the coolest this city has, brilliant sound, sweet backdrop – couldn’t make my secret hipster heart happier if it tried. If only I knew how to skate…. but I will definitely be back for more shows!
Show 1926 – in the words of House of Vans: Frank sang his “Tape Deck Heart out” and so did we.
P.S.: There’s still a few copies available of Ben’s book on his website (http://www.ben-morse.com/).