Review: Frank Turner returns with stunning first night of Lost Evenings

Just a week after the release of his latest album Be More Kind, Frank Turner takes over London’s Roundhouse for a four-night festival. 

English punk troubadour Frank Turner returned to the iconic Roundhouse for the second year of his sell-out four-day festival Lost Evenings. Fans pilgrimed from all over the world to be part of the festivities which see Turner inviting all his favorite bands and Xtra Mile label mates to play sets across various stages in Camden.

Friday night kicked off the festival with a greatest hits set and support from The Homeless Gospel Choir and Arkells – both had been touring the UK with Turner and his Sleeping Souls for over a month beforehand and Lost Evenings saw the close of the first leg of Frank Turner’s Be More Kind world tour. The second part of which will see him play huge shows across the UK early next year including a gig at Alexandra Palace that saw Turner pay tribute to Nick Alexander in 2015 with a slow, emotional rendition of his track Demons. 

Derek Zanetti, aka The Homeless Gospel Choir started the evening off with a set full of protest songs, because that is what he does best. “This is a protest song” he introduces each and every song, turning it into a mantra and making sure people know what his songs are about, and more so, listen closely to what he has to say. His first protest song is the poignant With God On Our Side off his 2012 record Luxury Problems.

What’s important to THGC is inclusion: “This music here is called punk and everyone is welcome … no bullying, no bullshit, no fucking questions asked. Welcome to the punk show!” he shouts as he launches into Musical Preference. Derek seamlessly hands the crowd over to Canadian rock ‘n’ roll outfit Arkells who join him on his last song in the set and title track of The Homeless Gospel Choir’s latest album – Normal. 

Arkells are most likely the best kept secret in the British music scene. Selling out arenas in their home country and generally being Canada’s national treasure, they are slowly getting their foot in the door in the UK. Because here’s the trend: as soon as you’ve seen these guys live once, you’re hooked. Whether it’s supporting Frank Turner or playing their own little shows, the fun just doesn’t stop. Frontman Max Kermann is the musical equivalent of an energizer bunny and will have you jumping and dancing along with him until the very last chord has blasted through the speakers.

The band jump right into their set, with no break between singing with THGC. Knocking At Your Door sets the tone for what the Roundhouse is to expect from the Arkells this evening. And whether it’s audience participation in the form of audience member Dan playing guitar in Private School Kids, or the classic drinking song melody (that was supposedly inspired by the man Frank Turner himself – “even before we met Frank, we were stealing his music” says Max), these Canadians know how to deliver the definition of a great support set. With the promise of coming back to London in November and catchy single Leather Jacket the Arkells leave the North London venue in a party mood for Frank Turner and his Sleeping Souls to take over.

It’s been a week since the release of Frank Turner‘s seventh studio album Be More Kind was released and while he missed the top chart spot this Friday, No 3 is still a pretty spectacular spot for a guy who gave folk punk a new life in this country.

There aren’t many bands out there who have a dedicated following as big and as adoring as Turner does. You can expect them to not only know every word to all the big hit singles, this crowd knows every word to EVERY single song, even the new ones. And that is exactly why Frank Turner’s shows are such an absolute treat to attend. After kicking off his set with a single off his latest record in the shape of 1933, as well as tracks off his last album Positive Songs For Negative People, Turner takes the time to let the crowd know that even at show #2175 there are still two rules he takes very seriously: “Dont be an arsehole, make sure the way you have fun doesn’t fuck up the people around you. And two, if you happen to know the words you gotta sing along.” And except for one exception down the front, both rules are strictly adhered to throughout the evening.

It’s no secret that some fans seemed worried about Frank Turner’s new sound, aka a slight tendency towards indie rock, on Be More Kind. But as with most bands that try a new direction (Fall Out Boy, Arctic Monkeys) you always have to wait to see them played live. Because you might just love them just as much as the old stuff. And this is exactly the case with the likes of Make America Great Again, Little Changes and more.

As it is a greatest hits night, the band don’t forget about the crowd pleasers such as the ever iconic The Road and I Disappear. And with these tracks the adoration for Turner and his music becomes clear to even the biggest cynics in the room. As Glory Hallelujah echoes through the Roundhouse, Turner shines in an almost saviour like silhouette on stage.

Earlier that day, the music world was shook by the tragic suicide of Frightened Rabbit vocalist Scott Hutchinson. Not only did Scott play the festival last year, he was also one of Frank’s close friends. “I don’t want to talk about death, I want to talk about life… as songwriters we need to keep their songs going.” Turner says before performing a heart-wrenching cover of Frightened Rabbit’s The Modern Leaper which had the entire venue in tears and appreciation for Scott’s talents.

For the encore, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls put into four songs why exactly their live shows are ones you won’t soon forget. Be More Kind’Don’t Worry is followed by the legendary I Still Believe, a track which quintessentially sums up what Turner is all about: “I still believe in the need for guitars and drums and desperate poetry.”

And with the slowed down Songbook version of Polaroid Picture Frank Turner sends the crowd off into the night with the idea that we should enjoy the moment while it lasts because “We won’t all be here this time next year, so if you can, take a picture of us.” – Fact.