Live Review: Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls - O2 Academy, Liverpool 25/04/2018

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls sell out the O2 Academy in Liverpool for an evening full of dancing, singing and hits from their upcoming album ‘Be more kind’ on the opening leg of their first ever world tour, bringing with them friends and support acts for the evening The Homeless Gospel Choir and Arkells.

First up we had The Homeless Gospel Choir an artist I had never heard of before, but nonetheless I found myself singing along to his catchy up-beat songs as the set progressed. The Folk-Punk singer from Pittsburgh opened the set with ‘with god on our side’ and even though the room wasn’t packed out at this point he had a strong following with parts of the crowd singing along throughout. The singer songwriter has catchy funny lyrics which will speak to a lot of people who like the Folk-Punk genre. Most of his songs revolve around the topics of politics and mental health which shows with the emotion he shows when singing his songs. You can tell that personal experiences and setbacks have lead him to create music that has meaning to him which he wants to broadcast on to the stage. With each song he announced “this is a protest song” which the crowd found particularly amusing. Continuing the set with songs ‘Seasonal Depression’,‘Why’ and ‘Normal’ The Homeless Gospel Choir had great crowd interaction and was a perfect support act for the night. If you are a fan of Frank Turner I urge you to go check him out if you haven’t already done so, I hope to catch him again soon in the UK.

The Homeless Gospel Choir - Liverpool o2 Academy - 25.04.18

The next support act Arkells were already on stage with no break as they had joined The Homeless Gospel Choir on stage for his last song. Arkells an indie band with an 80’s vibe, are 5 guys from Canada, made up with Max Kerman (Vocals), Mike DeAngelis (Guitar, Vocals), Nick Dika (Bass), Tim Oxford (Drums) and Anthony Carone (Keyboard, Vocals). Opening with ‘Knocking at the Door’ Arkells had great crowd interaction and even had a fan up on stage (for their second song) playing guitar for them, at this point the room was more than filling out which was great to see. Continuing with the set Arkells announced this was their first time playing Liverpool but you couldn’t tell this as they had the crowd in the palm of their hands, they had a fantastic vibe and great energy about them.

The boys mentioned during their set about the vibe of Frank Turner crowds and the energy they have during the set, however I think they had a similar effect on the crowd which more than lifted the atmosphere and energy of the room. My favourite song from the set was ‘People’s Champ’ which is their latest single, with a great chorus and very catchy gang vocals this is a clear fan favourite off of the set. I really enjoyed Arkells set and I’ll definitely be following their career from now on, I even downloaded their Discography the second I got home. Arkells are by far the best support band I have heard before without knowing who they are before going to the gig, later in the year they are heading out on their own UK headline tour I urge you to go check them out.

Arkells - Liverpool o2 Academy - 25.04.18

Time for the main act and one I don’t have to introduce to anyone Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls. Kicking off the Be More Kind tour in Manchester last week it was now Liverpool’s turn, with a sold out O2 Academy for show 2159 Frank kicked off proceedings with one of his new singles ‘1933’ off of his upcoming seventh album ‘Be More Kind’. Setting the tone for the evening this upbeat song got everyone dancing from the first chord. With Frank touring for over twenty years now, this was just another day in the office for the punk-rock singer and he effortlessly danced around the stage whilst encouraging the crowd to get involved and start moving. Frank continued by announcing to the few people who hadn’t been to one of his gigs before that there are only two rules for a gig of his, “rule one don’t be an arsehole” and “rule two if you know the lyrics, you have to sing along”, which really got the crowd singing along for the next song.

 Even though this was an album tour for ‘Be More Kind’ Frank didn’t disappoint with playing some of his older stuff and in fact he even brought this up during his set stating that “the old songs weren’t going anywhere” these included the likes of ‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’ & ‘The Opening Act Of Spring’ which are two of my favourite songs by Frank. ‘Be More Kind’ was of course the main focus of the night and Frank integrated his new songs from this album, which had only been out a few weeks, so well it seemed they had been a stapled part of the set for years. He played five songs from the new album (which is out May 4th), only missing out one song from the ones already released ‘There She Is’ which I was really disappointed with as this is so far my favourite song off of the new album, but hopefully we get to hear this next year on his next UK outing.

During the set in typical fashion Frank performed a few songs on his own, with the Sleeping Souls leaving the stage I always feel that the room becomes a little more intimate and it’s a nice atmosphere having this one on one time with Frank so I’m sorry Sleeping Souls I hope this is something that stays in the set for years to come. Closing the main set with ‘Photosynthesis’ which was met with a huge roar from the crowd. This was because the fans who’d been to a Frank gig before knew what was coming at the end of the song. One of the lines from this song is “and I won’t sit down, and I won’t shut up” and during the final verse of the song Frank gets everyone to sit on the floor and as these lines are sung everyone jumps up from there seats and dances until the song ends which is breathtaking to see 1,200 people do all at once.

The already lengthy show wasn’t quite over yet, nineteen songs in and the crowd still had a four song encore to get through. With Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls erupting onto the stage one more time the crowd were bursting with energy and didn’t let up with their screaming, chanting and dancing. The crowds energy cleary had a knock on effect with Frank giving him enough energy to crowd surf and get into the pit himself and dance with a crowd member during ‘Four Simple Words’. Overall the night was amazing and by far the best gig I had the pleasure of going to so far this year. I’m really excited for the new album and can’t wait to go to another Frank Turner gig again next year when he next tours the UK in January 2019.

Frank Turner - Liverpool o2 Academy - 25.04.18

Words by Joe Mellor
Photography be Jessie Jones