Frank Turner is not just a musician but also a storyteller, and ‘Live In Newcastle’ is proof of that, intertwining his songs with charismatic tales of love, life, and philosophical thoughts.
Listening to this record not only makes you feel like you’re in the room (recorded at O2 City Hall in November 2019), but also like you’re watching a powerful coming of age film. The Sleeping Souls also accompany Turner as his backing band, and frequently chime in adding to the charming ad lib dialogue between songs.
A welcoming introduction over the top of the instrumental to ‘The Ballad of Me & My Friends’ opens the show before transitioning into the song’s lyrics. This track is a fitted way to start proceedings, as it opens soft but builds into a big uplifting, room filling climax. It sets the tone for what’s to follow, with its fun and vibrant sound and lyrics and feel inclusive and personal.
Two thirds of the show contain songs surrounding the subject of unhappy love; Turner ponders upon past relationships that didn’t work out for him, and how that inspired a large amount of his earlier work. However, the show never feels sad, and an example of this is ‘Substitute’, a chirpy song about how he didn’t have much luck in love as his focus was on music.
Turner continues to spin the sounds of his back-catalogue, as, along with The Sleeping Souls, he jokingly improvises a new version of ‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’, and, in turn, creates a unique live experience.
Taking a comedic look at death and the after life, Turner segues into ‘One Foot Before The Other’, a song about the thoughts of his ashes placed in the drinking water. A throwback to his anarchist days of being into the punk rock scene, the song is very dramatic as the vocal cycles round getting louder and more passionate with every repetition. Being so dramatic about something so stupid from his youth demonstrates growth and personal reflection that Turner channels in his music.
The show is not all comedy – on the contrary, there’s a lot of honesty. A slow, acoustic presentation of ‘The Way I Tend To Be’ is so filled with heart and soul, you can feel the atmosphere in the venue as his solemn song is performed with a sense of pure sincerity. He doesn’t claim to be a preacher in his songwriting, but his show is filled it so much reflective thought that there’s at least one moment for everyone to relate to from some moment in their lives. Closing the show with ‘Be More Kind’ demonstrates the message of harmony and human respect that Turner tries to impart on others through his stories and music.
The folky acoustic sounds of Turner‘s music allows him to tackle sadder subject matters with a positive vibe for people to enjoy and digest, as if his music was always set to a silver linings mentality. The dialogue between songs is as fun and interesting as the music itself.
‘Live In Newcastle’ is a window into Frank Turner‘s life, thoughts, and song writing that’s both a thoughtful and reflective process for him and the audience.