On nationwide tour ★★★★✩
Frank Turner is the provocative, political singer-songwriter once dubbed a mini-Morrissey — yet judging from the mosh pit of devotees who lustily turned his set into a mass singalong, Turner really is far from miserable now.
Neither was anyone else at the Birmingham Arena gig (his 2,229th live performance, to be precise) that was akin to a joyous call to arms.
Backed by his band The Sleeping Souls, Turner told tales of early Birmingham shows, previous romances and audience inclusivity. The message was ‘It’s easy to be kind’ and the presence outside in the arena concourse of a Guide Dogs charity and an LGBT community group show that Turner puts his money where his lyrics are.
Flitting between heartfelt folk, rousing punk rock and hints of gospel on Tuesday, Turner ploughed through a one-hour 45-minute set of folk-punk favourites that included early appearances for cult anthems Photosynthesis and Recovery.
Performing is effortless for this veteran troubadour and this is never more evident than when he’s rallying the crowd to sing along on the upbeat Blackout and reflective Brave Face from his latest album, Be More Kind.
However, it wasn’t until his band disappeared and the spotlight was on Turner that his most vulnerable side was exposed. Worse Things Happen At Sea (from 2007’s Sleep Is for the Week) was introduced as being about a distasteful ex — though it’s a lot easier to perform as he’s now engaged to be married.
Returning for the encore, Turner gave a brief mention to his chosen worthy causes before crowdsurfing his way to the circle pit on show closer Four Simple Words. Turner emerged from the chaos to a crescendo of confetti and pyro.
It wasn’t just Turner’s songs that were catching. Clearly, his sentiment was too, as fans dropped their loose change into Guide Dogs collection buckets on their way out. Proving once and for all, it really is easy to be more kind.