From the Cockpit to the Brudenell Social Club, Frank Turner has played just about every venue in Leeds over the last 20 years, but show 2304 was his biggest to date. His current tour, with support from Jimmy Eat World and Grace Petrie, is his first solo arena tour, seeing him play bigger stages than ever before.
With bigger venues, and larger audiences, it was always going to be interesting to see how the Winchester boy adapted his style for an arena. But, like with anything Frank Turner does, he absolutely smashed it with a heady blend of theatrics, hard work and a consciously planned set list that left no one disappointed.
Bouncing on stage with his usual gusto, Frank and The Sleeping Souls launched straight into Out of Breath, before setting the First Direct Arena alight with the iconic Photosynthesis. These exhilarating numbers instantly brought the crowd to life on a close to freezing northern night, bringing a singalong that few artists can command.
This fervour carried through to 1933 and Recovery, as Frank did his best to cover every inch of the stage, and mix in effortlessly choreographed leg kicks with the brilliant Ben Lloyd. This beautiful energy continued through a mixture of new and old tracks, before The Sleeping Souls exited the stage for Frank’s mid-set acoustic performance, which saw him deliver fan favourites – The Ballad of me and My Friendsand Long Live The Queen.
As The Sleeping Souls returned, they wasted no time charging straight into I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous, The Next Storm and I Still Believe. All three tracks had the audience pogoing, singing, dancing and loving every second of the Frank Turner’s unique showmanship, showing that no venue is too big or too small for his immense talent.
As the night drew to a close, Frank spoke about the importance of respect and humanity, reminding the audience that healthy debate is important, and we need to stop shouting statements, and learn to communicate once again. This speech was appropriately followed by the title track from his last album, Be More Kind, which was met by an array of smart phone torches.
Following this soft, subtle acoustic gem, Frank did what Frank does – he upped the tempo, and literally set the stage on fire, before wrapping up the night with his customary Four Simple Words. As always, the track saw him crowd surf (no problem in an arena!), race around the stage, dance and jump into the crowd for a dance with ‘the best dancer in Yorkshire’, before exiting the stage thoroughly soaked and more than worthy of his pay check.