Sarah Hughes, Contributor.
For the first time since a long three-year break, Frank Turner returned to Belfast to play a sold-out Limelight on Thursday 11TH February 2016. Armed with his band The Sleeping Souls, Turner played an unforgettable 24 song set. The support was Derry-bred Waldorf & Cannon, an alt-rock duo who drew in the crowd with their opening song ‘Wise Up Rise Up’. Waldorf played an intriguing and impressive range of instruments, and donning the foot drum-kit, electric guitar, vocals and harmonica made the talented Cannon (who plays bass and vocals) look somewhat unnecessary.
At 8pm Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls owned the stage with his song, ‘The Next Storm’ from his new album Positive Songs for Negative People. It’s an upbeat song of hope that display Turner’s supreme songwriting talent, and the crowd lapped it up. Not neglecting his older works, Turner followed up with ‘The Road’ from his 2009 album Poetry of the Deed. Turner apologised for not returning to Belfast sooner but made up for it with stacks of energy in every song, running back and forth across the small stage, and jumping with the crowd in his skinny black jeans. Turner powered through ‘Losing Days’ and then paid tribute to the late Lemmy (frontman of Motörhead) and David Bowie in his song ‘Eulogy’. He also teased us by playing the introduction of ‘Ace of Spades’ but did not sing the full song, much to the crowd’s dismay.
Turner never stopped giving, at one point telling the crowd that the side who made the most noise would get a signed drum skin from himself and The Sleeping Souls. Unable to make a decision Turner sent his technician Cahir to be surfed around the crowd and back to the other side of the stage instead. Turner accompanied this with his song ‘Out of Breath’ (again from the new album). The crowd were worshipping Turner at this point in the night, following his instruction to sit down on the floor and then suddenly to jump up and dance with someone they didn’t know, because in his words “we are all just strangers screaming in the dark”. That isn’t to say Turner wasn’t grateful for the support, rather he seemed overwhelmed by the screaming crowd. Turner played fan request ‘Mr Richards’ solo, one of three acoustic performances that proved how far and hard Turner has worked to get where he is today. These stripped back songs left the crowd wanting more, and he and his band returned for the encore. With ‘The Angel Islington’, ‘I Still Believe’ and of course ‘Four Simple Words’ (a song whose mantra is “I wanna dance”) Turner had the crowd screaming the lyrics and dancing. Turner then stage dived into the crowd in a tremendous finale.
It has to be said that Turner’s album tour Positive Songs for Negative People left everyone feeling stirred up with sore throats from singing and tired legs from dancing, but ultimately uplifted and (and as he says in his song ‘The Next Storm’) ready to “face the sunshine” of tomorrow.