18 September 2020 (gig)
19 September 2020
At frst glance the steep upper tier is a delight, but one foot wrong and you could find yourself collapsed across a table on the ground floor. These dizzying heights offer up a wonderful birds eye view although clearly too high for the beer pumps to pull with only bottles on sale at the bar. It's the first time in 15 years that this level has been opened, and it's a pleasure to be here.
The stage is sparsely set up, no drum kit just three mic stands and a guitar. First to entertain was Guise, a young female singer/songwriter playing acoustic guitar.
'Brothers In Arms' from their debut EP released in March (bad timing) was the first of the evening. Going on to explain that lockdown gave her the chance to spend more time with her husband Mr. Turner, Mrs Turner, or 'that lucky bitch' as she said people had referred to her, went on to deliver a delightful set.
Sean McGowan is always a joy to behold. Immediately letting the first song speak for itself before returning to the well-worked formula of modern day poetic punk renditions punctuated by expletives. Clearly tonight's live feed must have come with a warning. This Southampton born singer/songwriter follows in the vein of our beloved Billy Bragg and indeed sold t-shirts for him in this very venue in 2013.
Frank Turner has always been on the right side of the fence in times of trouble. He's a musician that looks after other musicians and more importantly the venues they play in. He threw his weight behind The Save Our Venues initiative, organised by the Music Venue Trust. He has been on the frontline for years, he just raised £25,000 for this historic venue alone.
'Be More Kind' was our opener and my first gig since lockdown was shaping up nicely. Despite the reduced capacity and social distancing the crowd volume did not seem to be affected, joyous as we all are for this first live foray.
Turner is man that sticks to his guns much like the aforementioned Billy Bragg, he has widened his arms and created his own space in the musical world, and all the happier we are for it.
Calling on his comrade Matt Nasir on mandolin which immediately adds further depth to the songs, their musical chemistry clearly aligned.
"Lockdown aye, that's been shit" Turner quips.
It's a night that reminds you just how good live music can make you feel. It's our wellbeing at stake too. Opening up this artistic artery frees a little more of our minds which have born the brunt of lockdown life for too long. If gigs like this are to be the new normal in the coming year, it's too be welcomed but as Covid cases continue to rise it's a luxury that could be gone all too soon.
Bringing the nights entertainment to a close we are blessed with a cover of 'Live and Let Die'. Mandolin and guitar uniting in celebration with an explosion of paper confetti heralding the end but not before Guise and Sean McGowan return for backing duties as Turner launches into 'I Still Believe'. A long overdue celebration of music.
Be More Kind
The Ballad of Me and My Friends
I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
Long Live the Queen
Jinny Bingham's Ghost
The Way I Tend to Be (Frank Solo)
The Work (Frank Solo)
If Ever I Stray
The Next Storm
Four Simple Words
Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
I Still Believe (With Guise and Sean McGowan on backing vocals)