Frank Turner @ The Refectory, 01/12/16

Live music is all about community, and this is what we need now more than ever. Frank Turner tells his audience exactly this at The Refectory, right before he commands a Wall of Death (by Hugs). Looking around the room, which is packed with people of all ages, races, and genders, one thing is clear: this is a man who brings people together.

The opening support act, Esme Patterson, is charming, and wins over the early, eager audience members with smart songs from the points of view of Jolene and Eleanor Rigby.

Felix Hagan & the Family are, contrastingly, bizarre. Their performance feels like it belongs to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or an equally kitsch musical. It is difficult to form an opinion on the music itself – so distracting is the spectacle – but the band makes sure everyone in the crowd is having fun. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for.

Although he does not bring as much glitter to the stage, Frank Turner brings the real party. He grins at the crowd, grins at every word sung along, every fist pump, and every instance of jazz hands. Yes, jazz hands – we do a lot of those. He exudes passion and it is reflected right back at him, creating a lively, joyous atmosphere in the room. Old songs such as ‘Try This At Home’ and ‘Photosynthesis’ particularly ignite the crowd, the sense of history to this community being palpable.

However, it is tracks from the musician’s most recent albums, Positive Songs for Negative People and Tape Deck Heart which best demonstrate his sheer brilliance as an artist. These are still songs about loving music and about muddling through, but they are more refined – without losing all roughness – and flesh out the show with a much needed dose of hope.

Sophia Simon-Bashall

(Image: Allston Pudding)

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