LIVE: Frank Turner / The Subways @ The Roundhouse

By Adam Rosario

Last year, Punk-Troubadour Frank Turner took a bold step in curating his own festival. Four nights in a row, at the Camden Roundhouse, 8000 people would be watching a festival he chose. The risk was great but the reward was incredible, with it proving to be a massive success. Lost Evenings came back again in 2018 and look set to be a permanent fixture on the festival circuit. 

On the second night, The Subways are billed as the main support and what an incredibly underrated band they are. Even through technical hitches & a guitar that keeps falling out of tune, they persevere & play a half an hour set full of absolute bangers. The energy they exert on stage with ‘Oh Yeah’ and ‘Girls & Boys’ being particular highlights, it’s hard to see why they’re not a bigger sized band than they are. ‘Rock N’ Roll Queen’ still sounds massive and The Subways have definitely earned new fans this evening. There’s a fifth album coming soon which (if allowed) should put them in venues they should’ve always been playing. 

Starting his set on a piano, Frank Turner tenderly performs ‘The Way I Tend To Be’ to open the set. This the first of a few songs not to be on the album that’s being celebrated tonight. ‘Love Ire & Song’ was a turning point for Frank Turner and to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Turner tells the crowd they’ll play it in full, but ‘in whatever order we feel like’. 

‘Reasons Not to be an Idiot’ and ‘Impefect Tense’ start the album off & sound even better now than they’ve ever done. It’s quite clear that The Sleeping Souls have worked on these songs in rehearsals to get them up to scratch. Turner, between songs, tells a small anecdote about each song & where he was in 2008 when it was written, physically, emotionally & mentally. He’s even tried to grow out his hair & joked that he & the band had to find shirts from the bottom of the wardrobes for the authentic 2008 look. 

This is anything but a 2008 Frank Turner performance however. This is Show 2176 & the 2175 before have turned Turner into a powerhouse frontman. Able to work the crowd with ease, he makes the Roundhouse feel like it’s the old Camden Barfly. ‘Better Half’ is aired for the first time as a full band & a rousing ‘To Take You Home’ ends the full band portion of the night for now. 

Returning to the stage on his own, Turner asks if the crowd want to hear songs that weren’t on the album but were written at the same time. ‘Frontcrawl’ ‘Hold Your Tongue’ & ‘Old Flame’ (the latter featuring Emily Barker who also performed at the festival) get a huge reaction from the crowd. It’s clear to see that the fans are all old school Frank Turner fans, and this makes for a fantastic atmosphere of celebration & love in the air. A cover of Ben Marwood’s cover of The Postal Service’s ‘The District Sleeps Alone’ (Turner admits to stealing this & thinking Marwood has forgotten) fades into ‘Love, Ire & Song’ bringing back the Sleeping Souls before a phenomenal ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Was Famous’ brings the main set to a close. 

A solo encore of ‘The Ballad of Me & My Friends’ follows a heartfelt speech to the crowd, thanking them for the support & a self admission that he’d ‘still happily be doing this set in a pub to three people.’ This is where Frank Turner is different to other artists. There’s not one moment that you don’t believe every word he says. His heart is definitely on his sleeve and in his words at all times. 

Ending on ‘Photosynthesis’ Turner has triumphed again. A new record ‘Be More Kind’ made it to the Top 3 of the U.K. charts & a tour announced for 2019 is already on sale. Frank Turner is one of the rare artists that deserve unwavering support. A proper DIY artist, who cuts the BS & just plays his songs. Here’s to the next 2176 shows he plays.