Gig review: Frank Turner, Edinburgh

Frank Turner built up the energy of his sell'out crowd
Frank Turner built up the energy of his sell'out crowd
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Kudos is due to Winchester’s own Frank Turner, who felt the need here to apologise for being “not just English, but southern English”.

Frank Turner - Edinburgh Corn Exchange

* * * *

Not for the apology itself, because it certainly wasn’t needed, but for turning a bit of regional rivalry (at one point he wasn’t above stoking a pantomime booing contest between those in from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen) into a positive virtue. His words were a preamble to Wessex Boy, a song which rather beautifully converted affection for where he’s from into something resonantly universal about home and the power of formative experience.

Despite studying at Eton at the same time as Prince William, Turner’s muse is wonderfully earthy, a well-worked antidote to the studiedly prosaic sound of Mumford and Sons. He incorporates acoustic folk on Father’s Day, a vaguely Levellers-style set of boisterous rustic influences on The Road and a general air of homespun but worldly conscience and lyrical worldliness which reminds of Billy Bragg, as best exemplified by If I Ever Stray and Eulogy’s medley or the sublime Broken Piano. A one-time punk singer with his band Million Dead, Turner employed the difference texture this sensibility gave him to create a set which varied pleasingly across its near two-hour running time.

Before a sold-out audience who were rather impressively cajoled into mass communal star jumps during Recovery, the polite 32-year-old built the energy like a pro, using an acoustic cover of Frightened Rabbit’s The Modern Leper as a springboard into the elegiac Polaroid Picture, the TS Eliot-referencing I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous, and finally the edgy, excitable Four Simple Words.

Seen on 7.2.14