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Frank Turner: Live Review, Nottingham Rock City, 18 October 2009

Michelle Dhillon

It’s Sunday bloody Sunday at Nottingham Rock City and, judging from the horribly sticky floor, it’s most definitely the night after the night before. After a somewhat bizarre double-whammy consisting of Shane Macgowan-esque vocal stylings of the absurdly-named Beans On Toast and the sometimes pedestrian indie-rock leanings of Fake Problems, there’s only one thing that’ll even start to placate tonight’s massive turnout – and that’s Frank Turner.

The brightest British lyricist of our generation

“Who?!” I hear you gawk. This might come as a huge shock to most of you, but the brightest British lyricist of our generation isn’t Peter flaming Doherty or Amy ‘pass the Margherita’ Winehouse. And this is what’s so wrong about rock and pop culture’s incredibly sleazy obsession with car-crash cadavers; the god-awful fact that someone as awesome as Frank Turner might totally pass you by because he seems to be a perfectly clean bill of health.

Exploding onto the stage with Live Fast, Die Old, he incites the entire venue to sing along with every single lyric for almost 90 minutes and it’s a sight to behold. Comparable only to the legendary Billy Bragg and yes, even Joe Strummer, Turner bulldozes his way through an array of songs that show his glittering genius like my personal favourites The Road, Substitute and The Real Damage.

This anti-Folk punkster has everyone in the palm of his hand

In fact, it’s a minor miracle that any ex-public schoolboy (Eton, don’tcha know) can pack out a venue with nearly 3,000 adoring fans who sing along to every single line of every single song. A man of the people? Absolutely. Turner is clearly blessed with the ability to connect with the crowd, via his music and his sunny personality. This anti-Folk punkster has everyone in the palm of his hand and it’s awesome to see.

Turner makes it clear he’s dumbstruck at the heaving crowd that have turned up to see him and he pronounces tonight’s show to be his biggest to date. Cue one of many deafening cheers. But he’s not forgotten that he was once told to “f**k off & never come back” by one enraged Notts gig-goer at the close of a support slot a few years ago. It’s a long way from Junktion 7 to Nottingham Rock City, but as Ian Brown said on some stage in some place in Cheshire in 1991, ‘the time is now’ – and Frank Turner’s time has most definitely arrived.

Review: Michelle Dhillon

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