A night off with friends
This was Frank Turner's latest visit to a gig venue in Kingston, a town on the edge of London he has graced on a number of occasions during both his solo, one man and a guitar career and his time with Million Dead.
The difference between this and the previous Kingston gig I saw him play was that the Fighting Cocks is a smaller venue than the Peel, and the Peel show in June was part of an acoustic night where Frank was on fairly early in the evening. However here he was the headliner, the star attraction, the man who most had come to see which makes a world of difference to the atmosphere and the way a gig lives in the memory when you leave at the end of the night.
As well as being a real contrast from the last time I saw him in South West London, this gig was also miles away from recent shows he's played, for this was a break from support slots on the current Automatic tour. Incidentally he told me those are going extremely well.
We've all seen opening acts play to a half empty room which must be a tricky one to pull off, the way Frank through himself into this performance suggested he was loving being back in familiar territory.
The set opened with two tracks from his 'Camp Fire Punkrock' EP, 'Casanova Lament' and lead song 'Nashville Tennessee'. If you've seen Frank before or are familiar with his work, others in the setlist on this occasion included 'Romantic Fatigue', 'Worse Things Happen At Sea', 'My Kingdom For A Horse' and 'A Decent Cup of Tea'.
The biggest reaction of the night was for another 'Camp Fire Punkrock' track, before 'Thatcher Fucked the Kids' those who were born in the eighties were asked to stick their hand up. In case you're interested I was in a minority who couldn't, for the record that's only by three and a half months. I couldn't help but wonder if the age range of the Automatic's crowd was surveyed in this way. Something tells me the line 'Thatcher Fucked the Kids' might not be belted out by their fans in quite the way it was in the Fighting Cocks on this Sunday night.
The banter with the crowd is another real strength of a Frank Turner gig of this size, giving the feel that he's playing to a room full of mates. Chances are he was looking at some familiar faces in the crowd but this is an atmosphere he strives to create wherever he's performing.
It's difficult to judge the progress of Frank Turner's solo career on the attendance of this show, for the Fighting Cocks is the middle in terms of gig venue size in Kingston. What is clear is that supporting the Automatic, one of the bands of 2006 is a brilliant opportunity for him, as was being invited to play a session for Steve Lamacq on Radio 1 in September.
Hardly will the New Year's Eve hangover have cleared before you can get your hands on his new album, January 8 is the release date. There's no reason why Frank can't spend 2007 rising up the musical ladder in the same way his mate Sam Duckworth of Get Cape fame has done in 2006. I'm certainly not the only Room Thirteen writer who'd like to be able to say "told ya so" a year from now.