Review: Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Alexandra Palace, London

London’s favourite troubadour and songwriter Frank Turner returns to his hometown of choice for the last gig of his UK tour.

Turner’s tour kicked off in the US in September just after the release of his latest album Positive Songs For Negative People and a small in-store gig tour just before that. Now he’s playing the biggest standing room in the UK.

It’s a packed Thursday night at Alexandra Palace, with an army of Frank Turner fans ensuring the show is an almost sold-out affair, and they’re all here to have a good time. After a smashing opening with Get Better, the first track from the new album, Frank divides the room into two teams. Apparently there is a competition going between Sleeping Souls members Ben and Tarrant as to which side could make the most noise throughout the gig. Challenge accepted!

Frank Turner Reading Festival Tim Easton Ticketmaster

Photo taken at Reading Festival 2015

If I Ever Stray is up next and shakes the good old Ally Pally, the people’s palace as they call it, to the core. Two things you will never find at a Frank Turner show: a quiet crowd and people not dancing. Even in a room with nearly 9,000 people, Turner’s London show still feels like an intimate gig with the grandeur of a stadium show. How he does it? It’s the near worship-like following of his loyal fans and the fact he feels as approachable as your favourite busker on your route to work.

The set list serves up an enjoyable mix of old, new, fast and slow, delivered into a sizeable 28-long run. After the cheerful tunes of The Opening Act Of Spring the band depart the stage, leaving the Wessex Boy to his own devices for a few songs. Turner plays the all-time crowd favourite The Ballad Of Me And My Friends, admitting that the song isn’t really meant to be played in rooms like Alexandra Palace. In line with the sentiment of the good old days, comradery and grassroots music support, Frank Turner plays a new arrangement of the song Demons (also on Positive Songs For Negative People) in memory of his friend Nick Alexander who tragically died in the Paris Attacks. The originally very up-tempo tune is stripped off all its drums and jazz, down to a bare and honest arrangement.

Frank Turner Reading Festival Tim Easton Ticketmaster

Photo taken at Reading Festival 2015

With all the hits slotted alongside new songs like Plain Sailing Weather, Photosynthesis, Mittens and Recovery the show seems to be flying by way too fast. We get two more dance-along numbers in Try This At Home, a song from 2009’s Poetry Of The Deed, and a true homage to his punk-rock days, and The Next Storm, the second song released from his latest album, in the video of which he gets beaten up in a boxing match by WWE star CM Punk.

And with that, The Angel Islington and Four Simple Words bookend the encore to close Frank Turner’s 2015 UK tour. We won’t sit down, we won’t shut up, and most of all we will not grow up as long as we have Frank Turner touring venues large and small.

Frank Turner, Alexandra Palace, London, 26/11/15