FRANK TURNER & THE SLEEPING SOULS
Live music, eh? What will the scene look like after all of the chaos of recent months and the apparently uncertain times that lie ahead? Will this album become a treasured relic because all of the venues have died a death and it stands as a reminder of happier times? Well, hopefully not, because, as well as this release, Frank has busied himself recently with a series of virtual fundraising gigs (#IndependentVenueLove), which have already raised enough to save Southamptons Joiners Arms from closure and over £10,000 in donations for Londons Nambucca impressive considering he has been forced to cancel his own 2020 tour dates.
It doesnt surprise that Turner is so passionate about supporting small venues as he has worked his way up through most of them over the years. After he went solo following his stint in Million Dead, I remember seeing him in what is a now-defunct room in Cambridge, playing to his family and only a few others. It was a memorable show for how genuine and humble he was and it is refreshing to see that he hasnt lost these qualities during his popularity as one of the UKs best-loved singer songwriters.
Performing with The Sleeping Souls, it doesnt take a genius to work out what the album holds. Recorded in support of Turners No Mans Land at O2 City Hall, fans will be overjoyed by some 20 tracks of unplugged arrangements of Franks extensive back catalogue, making it an excellent collection for those discovering him for the first time too, offering a warm familiarity and motivation when we need it most. No surprises either that some deeply personal alt-acoustic storytelling creates an energy to evoke the feeling when the lights go down, the feeling of people around you, communal singing, the smell of a building laced with years of memories. Live in Newcastles setlist is immaculate and beautiful, the musicianship just as stunning as would be expected of a band with their experience. It is the perfect lockdown listening to help keep in mind that not only can music get us through times that may be hard but that we must also do what we can to help artists and venues survive - now and always - so we have something real to enjoy when all this is over.