Frank Turner
Cambridge Corn Exchange
Monday 6 December 2010

Gig review by Glitterbitch

Walking in from a chilling December evening, the Cambridge Corn Exchange feels even more draughty and spacious than usual as the biting wind cuts through all the open doors. Maybe it is for this reason that more people than usual are huddled together, like emperor penguins, in the main auditorium to watch the first support band Dive Dive, three quarters of which is made up of Frank Turner’s backing band. Catching only the very end of the set turns out to be both a disappointment and a gentle tease as the band instantly grab me and leave me wanting more. They are powerful and harmonious and completely unexpected. Ending the set with an avalanche of riffs, refrains and beats that punch through the air, there is a quirky Biffy Clyro / Smashing Pumpkins - esque catch to Dive Dive that promises much.

Ed Harcourt appears alone on stage next and completely changes the mood. Close your eyes and you could be listening to Jeff Buckley, such is the depth and intensity of his voice. He plays with a plethora of instruments akin to The Eels and The Guillemots but somehow his solemn brilliance seems lost on a youthful crowd more intent on making their own noise than appreciating his.

By the time Frank Turner arrives on stage the Corn Exchange has mostly filled up, although not completely sold out. Having frequented smaller venues in recent years this is a big step up for the charismatic singer song-writer and it is an anxious wait to see if his intimate sing-a-long show will translate to a bigger arena.
His announcement that he is suffering with a cold is not a good start and as soon as he enters into mini intro song Eulogy you can hear the physical strain in his voice. As the band launches into Poetry of the Deed his trademark punk rasps are missing and there is a concern that the intensity of his music, lyrics and presence may be lost tonight in this air craft hanger.

Thankfully, all fears are short lived as the crowd come to Frank’s aid when he requests that he helps him out on Try This at Home so that his mum thinks he’s got a real job. From here the show really starts with the crowd singing almost every single word of I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous and Imperfect Tense.

New songs sit as well in the set as any other, especially I Still Believe from the new Rock & Roll EP. Introducing it by telling us all the things he believes in including music, 12 track albums on vinyl, Presley, Cash, Springsteen, Bragg and Costello, this is another song which instantly connects and is full of vocal catches for the audience to grab onto.

Even when he forgets the words the crowd are there to help him out and keep the show going full tilt. He throws in all his ‘hits’ towards the end of the set; Substitute, Long Live The Queen, Reasons Not To Be An Idiot, Sons of Liberty and The Road. Despite his rapid growth in fame, he still remains humble when he thanks the audience at the end of the show before he finishes off with the customary anthems, The Ballad of Me and My friends and Photosynthesis. The show may have got bigger but Frank stills knows how to reach an audience.