Due to time constraints of the regular Tuesday LCR student meat market, Jim Lockey and The Solemn Sun’s acoustic-hardcore storytelling and Tim Barry’s wandering outlaw anthems get less attention than they deserve, while Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls come on stage as we’ve barely had a pint to warm up on this cold Autumn evening – not that it takes long to get things toasty in here.
Bursting on stage, playing with all the intensity of his punk-rock roots, Frank Turner looks positively energised. We’re treated to a smattering of sing-along favourites and cuts from latest album England Keep My Bones as the humanist-hymn Glory Hallelujah segues into a full-throttle version of Long Live the Queen.
Managing to inspire such an intimate sentiment in his contingent of long term fans, through stories so deeply personal, it’s a product of Frank’s widespread appeal that these lyrics come across as slightly incongruous when reeled out as ‘the hits’. But it’s exactly the fact that anyone can take their own personal meaning from these songs that gives “everyman” Frank Turner his appeal and it seems unfair to want to claim such a fine artist the intimate secret of a lucky few.
This is not to say that Frank Turner circa 2012 has abandoned the intimacy of his acoustic years. While introducing a remarkably sparse version of rarely played Front Crawl, we are told that “This song kinda fell between the cracks of albums, but I really like it, so I’m gonna play it”. It’s a moment of idiosyncratic tenderness that evokes the camp fire spirit and ragged troubadour soul that has inspired such ardent passion from his followers, just on a larger scale these days.
When his band The Sleeping Souls emerge back on stage they get a chance to show their colours, hilariously jamming spontaneous backing tracks to every style of dancing Frank suggests, after inviting Norwich to take part in an “inter-city dance off”. It’s the perfect crowd-pleasing gesture to keep the energy levels high rolling into Try This at Home and I Still Believe, completing a rock & roll trinity of swingin’ jivers to get the peeps dancing.
After this, the effervescent energy now sizzling from the crowd seems to inspire Frank into the final song, a raucous punk-rock version of acoustic anthem Dan’s Song. Crowd-surfing on the sweaty masses, belting out tales of cider drinking in the park, it’s a moment of sheer joie de vivre that perfectly encapsulates the life affirming power of nights like these.