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Frank Turner Instore

March 29th, 2009 · post by imelda

Frank Turner claims to be haunted by the scene from Spinal Tap where no-one turns up for an instore appearance. He really didn’t have anything to worry about today. Pure Grooves, the record shop/cafe tucked away behind London’s Smithfield market, is packed to capacity and a few ardent fans even have to settle for the pavement outside.

On the back of a tour supporting the much lauded Gaslight Anthem, plus his own headline show at Scala and high praise for his Reading Festival triumph last summer, the former Million Dead singer can easily fill a small record store for a free gig.

Frank Turner at Pure Grooves in Smithfield photo 1

His current “Love, Ire & Song” album provides much of the material for the show. Highlights include “Photosynthesis”, “Love Live The Queen” and “Reasons Not To Be An Idiot”, the latter of which is the new single – with a special batch of 300 copies on sale that Frank has personally signed, each with a different reason not to be an idiot. An idea, he admits, he somewhat regretted when he realised just how long it would take – and how hard it would be – to come up with so many reasons…the last few apparently pertaining to what a bad idea the whole concept had been in the first place.

Frank Turner at Pure Grooves in Smithfield photo 2He throws in a Bruce Springsteen cover (”Thunder Road”) for good measure before breaking a string on his guitar three songs before the end of the show. He laughs, says he’ll need to spontaneously transpose some chords, and carries on.

The enthusiastic set is peppered with news about his upcoming Russian tour being cancelled (after his touring companions Anti-Flag had to pull out due to an injured singer) and the new album he’ll be recording in April.

Given the informal nature of the gig and a crowd well acquainted with Frank’s material, it’s a shame he doesn’t offer to take a request or two. The intimate, solo acoustic performance format seems (rightfully) popular at the moment and really does feel like a special treat for loyal fans. But having seen the likes of, for instance, The Slackers’ Vic Ruggiero doing quite awe-inspiring acoustic instores in recent months, where more than half the set is made up of whatever the crowd want to hear, it would have been nice to see a little bit more interaction here.

Frank Turner at Pure Grooves in Smithfield photo 3

Nevertheless, there’s a loud singalong finish with “The Ballad Of Me And My Friends” and almost everyone seems to know the words, including the sterling line: “Yes we’re definitely going to hell, but we’ll have all the best stories to tell.” For Frank, one of those stories is likely to be that his headlining autumn show at the esteemed Shepherd’s Bush Empire may well be a sell out – in the very best meaning of the phrase.

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