The Real Damage.
Last on the bill for the Softcore tour line up is Frank Turner, another ex hardcore front man turned folk/country singer song writer. Frank looks tired tonight. It's obviously been a hard day for him; he makes it to the venue just in time for his set because he's been to the funeral of a close friend today and when he takes to the stage he's obviously still feeling the strain as he urges the crowd into action, telling us we've got to make it a good night for him. Of course the crowd reacts accordingly, he has plenty of fans here in Cardiff – he's been coming to this venue since the early days of Million Dead and they don't hesitate to sing along with him on 'Nashville Tennessee', 'The Real Damage' and on firm favourites like the bitter sweet 'Father's Day' and melancholy but sing along 'The Ballad of Me and My Friends' which always makes even the stoniest audience member join in.
Even with all the problems he might have faced during the day, Frank is as commanding and professional as always, chatting to the audience and turning out note perfect songs with comments and stories attached. His minimal folk/punk is ideal for this kind of small venue, the intimate setting and lack of barrier around the stage allow a connection between him and the crowd that makes this an even more touching performance. He plays a mixture of old and new Solo material, some we haven't heard before, but all tracks from just his solo output, avoiding any urges he might have to delve into the past and dredge up Million Dead tunes; it's obviously not a night for looking back but driving forwards. The emotion of the day's experience does show on his face a few times though, especially when he dedicates a song to his lost friend, saying it will always be for her, and he looks close to tears as he belts it out.
Frank's manner is more formal than previous performer Jonah Matranga; he doesn't invite requests, but he does put you at ease, and in tonight's performance he really seems like a headline act, composed but with barely veiled emotion he owns the stage and the audience, he can only go from strength to strength.