Concert Review: Frank Turner, Skinny Lister, Esme Patterson, + Oxygen Thief @ Night & Day Cafe – Manchester

The fact that Frank Turner takes time out of his very busy schedule, after a year of playing arena shows and festival headline sets, to play an extremely intimate show to an one hundred and fifty person crowd in aid of Independent Venue Week show’s what a true hero he is. Night and Day Cafe was packed to the walls with one hundred and fifty of his most loyal fans, all well aware of how lucky they were to be in that room. As well as Frank, there were three support acts, the first of which was Oxygen Thief, a folk-punk solo act who took to the stage and started the night as we meant to go on with folk songs that will stay in your head for weeks.

Next up was the brilliantly unique Esme Patterson who had a set completely comprised of songs from the perspective of female icons, Billie Jean and Jolean to name but a few. I think she is really onto something with this concept as she delivered each song with enough passion to embody the person whom the song was about. This was her first show in the UK and it’s the start of something very exciting.

The final support act were Skinny Lister, a six piece London folk band who won the crowd over by passing around a barrel of beer. However, this was not necessary; their incredibly catchy songs were enough to get a party started in a sobriety meeting and they played with the enthusiasm of a headline band, something which I think all bands should do. They are already very capable of performing a captivating headline show and I can’t wait to sing their sea shanty with them again when they return to Manchester.

Now onto Frank who took to the stage to a barrage of applause, cheers, and chants as the excitement in the room reached its peak. As is standard with one of his shows, he introduced himself and announced what number show this was (number 1,631). An absence of his Sleeping Souls was notable but if anything it made the gig even more intimate and special for those who managed to get themselves in. His opener was the classic ‘If I Ever Stray’, a perfect start for a night full of singalongs lead by the best choir master in Hampshire. Even though he admitted himself that the majority of the set list was improvised, you wouldn’t be able to tell, Frank could play anything from his catalogue and a group of fans as devoted as this would be able to recite all the lyrics backwards. He then went on to please the crowd with ‘Try this at Home’, ‘Losing Days’, new song ‘Get Better’, and my favourite song of all time – ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’. This song is in my opinion one of the greatest songs ever written and the fact I know two people with the lyrics tattooed on them, shows how beautiful the words are. This was conveniently followed by ‘Tattoos’ as well as ‘Fathers Day’ and then onto fan favourites like ‘The Way I Tend To Be’ and ‘I Am Disappeared’. All of the above were performed with the level of enthusiasm and showman ship that Frank is renowned for and he really did have the crowd under the palm of his hand, the look on his face showed how much playing small venues like this really mean to him. He then stated he had just a few songs left to the disappointment of the audience but how could they stay disappointed with the likes of ‘Photosynthesis’, ‘Recovery’, ‘I Still Believe’, and the beautiful ‘Ballad of Me and My Friends’ yet to come.

Frank Turner certainly knows how to put on a show and every time I go to see him I leave thinking it was the best gig I have ever been to (and Wednesday night was no exception). Seeing Frank perform has become like my birthday, I’d love for it to occur more than once a year and this time it has occurred thrice in the past 12 months for which I am very very grateful. Playing an Arena, headlining a festival, and playing a tiny intimate gig and delivering each one to perfection is no easy task, but one which Frank is certainly capable of doing. Please support independent venue week and go down to your local venue and watch a band play, as Frank said, even if you don’t know who they are. Let’s keep this amazing scene going.

For all interviews and features with Frank Turner, click here.

Review by Jack McCabe | Photos by Iain Fox

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