30 for 30 // See Frank Turner Live

See Frank Turner live - 30 for 30 - Laura Whispering

Crying at a gig might not sound like a good thing, but my favourite performers are the ones who make me feel something. 

Frank Turner has long been one such artist and I've been eager to see him live for quite some time. When he came to Aberdeen back in 2016, I got excited, got tickets ..and then got detained. I ended up in the psych ward and couldn't leave - Frank's gig one of many things my mental health ruined for me. 

Determined not to let that be the end of the story, I've been keeping a keen eye on his tour dates and knew he had to feature in my "30 for 30". When he announced a show in Glasgow as part of the Celtic Connections series, we booked trains and a hotel and pounced on the redemption opportunity!

Performing to a sell-out crowd at the Old Fruitmarket, Will Varley proved a solid support act, suitably setting the stage for a solo Frank Turner set. His usual band The Sleeping Souls apparently slumbering elsewhere, it was left to Frank and his guitars to fill both the hall and the audience's attention alone. I'd imagine it being a daunting experience to stand up there without the back-up you're accustomed to, but if that's true for Frank you'd certainly never know. He makes it look like the most comfortable experience in the universe, to captivate an entire crowd on your own.

Then again, he's an old hand at it now. This, he tells us, is his 2133rd show!

Opening with the not-yet-released 'Get It Right', Turner's set includes a sample of songs from his upcoming album (namely '1933' and 'Be More Kind'), surrounded by a selection of his most-loved tracks and a handful of requests placed pre-show by eager fans.

He takes us on a journey, from the sweet sentiments of 'There She Is', to the solo rendition of 'Smiling at Strangers on Trains' by his former band, through to the surprising cover of Queen's 'Somebody to Love'. The entire show is beautiful - a winding road of emotional peaks and troughs - but it is the rousing anthems of songs like 'If Ever I Stray', 'Recovery' or 'The Next Storm' that most give me goosebumps.

"Things didn't kill me but I don't feel stronger;
Life is short but it feels much longer
When you've lost that fight, yeah, you've lost that hunger
To pull yourself through the day.."

"I don't wanna spend the whole of my life indoors, laying low, waiting on the next storm.
I don't wanna spend the whole of my life inside; I wanna step out and face the sunshine."

Lyrics like these strike me somewhere deep and, looking out over the crowd from our balcony view, I wonder in what ways they resonate with these people too. I think of my own story and the stories of the audience members familiar to me. I think about dark nights and stormy days; about mental illness and self-destruction; about heartache and loss. I think about survival and recovery and weathering the storm. This music catches me at my core. I see it reflected back in the sea of faces below me, with all their painful pasts and triumphant histories, and I find myself weeping gently, goosebumps rising and hairs standing up in unity.

Crying at a gig is about connection, you see. It's about being part of something bigger than ourselves. It's about shared experience and mutual understanding. It's being less alone in our pain and our questions. It's being united in our survival and our strength and our joys. It's a mini representation of what it is to be human.

Crying at a gig might not seem like a good thing, but for me it is. 

And I'm so grateful to Frank Turner (and those like him) for making music that gives people these moments.

"Now who'd have thought that after all,
Something as simple as rock 'n' roll would save us all.
And who'd have thought that after all, it was rock 'n' roll."

Somewhat ironically, the following week saw the announcement of a whole new tour, including a date right here in Aberdeen! Needless to say, this is one item on the list I don't mind completing twice in a year, so I miiiight have purchased a couple of tickets already...


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  1. Same, dude. Same.

    On the having tickets for the next show already, that is (Edinburgh, for me - thankfully on a weekend).

    But yeah, also on the crying point. And for much the same reasons.

    "I Am Disappeared" is normally the song that reduces me to a bubbling mess, but "Get Better" has become a really important song to me for lots of reasons and hearing it - I think it was second, the other night? I'm not sure if it was the acoustic nature of the set, or my mood, or whatever; but I absolutely dissolved.

    I'm so glad your First Frank was a great one.

    Lis / last year's girl x