Frank Turner: Barfly, Liverpool

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The tunes remain, but the banter has diminished as Frank Turner polishes his professionalism, Matt Eland wants his hero back.


The Barfly is sold out tonight, a feat not lost on Frank Turner, who’s reflecting on a Magnet gig two years ago where 12 people showed up and he got so drunk he could hardly speak.
I remember it well – as I left he was rolling around on the couches at the side. But it’s a very different story now – he’s just released his second album, Love Ire and Song, he has a full band behind him, and the relentless gigging seems to have paid off.
It’s by no means a classic set – banter is kept to a minimum, bar one anecdote about support act Ciara Haider taking him jeans shopping, but there are a couple of notable highlights.
Some sparse piano fills the middle eight of a truly special Sea Legs, and he gets the predominantly statue-still crowd to indulge in a little hoe-downing during Photosynthesis.
A Love Worth Keeping makes infinitely more sense live, with the powerful drum beat transforming it into a distant cousin of Million Dead’s Carthago est Delenda.
Another cool moment comes when his guitarist starts shredding out a solo on a distorted mandolin to produce an effective violin effect.
So why was it not a classic? Well, my love for Turner’s music has been well documented on Getintothis, and I’ve seen him play literally thousands of times.
The show tonight wasn’t quite as visceral as it can be when it’s just him on his own, telling tales and banging tunes out on his acoustic.
Maybe it’s the crowd – the singalongs never quite get to the boozy heights they’re known to. But he’s been added to quite a few festivals over the summer, so no doubt he can atone for that as the year goes on.

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