Upon arriving at the renowned Brudenell Social, memories of old come flooding back and I think we’re quick to forget this tucked away little gem of a venue used to be very local club, for local people. Members only, club night turns, Saturday bingo, no women allowed in the pool room (no joke), all quite reminiscent of Phoenix Nights.
Fast forward a mere 16 or so years later and this is one of the most diverse and important live venues in Leeds that boosts a lustrous roster history of touring bands from all over the world including Grammy Award winning acts.
I was here to see the solo folk-punk troubadour Frank Turner, for his album release show for No Man’s Land, his eighth studio album. This is Frank’s 2,387th show after it was added due to the evening show selling out super-fast, and with the queue already forming and covering the car park once I arrive, I can imagine this one isn’t too far behind.
So, as I make my way into the venue it’s apparent that once I find a space, if I can, I won’t be venturing very far as the place in heaving, Turner’s ever-growing popularity coupled with playing a smaller venue such as the Brudenell Social makes it inevitable, I guess.
I was quite surprised with the eclectic mix of his following, from the very young (6-7-year old, obviously accompanied by their parents), mid twenty somethings to the 40s and 50s, seems Turner’s music certainly crosses and is enjoyed by quite a few generations.
After not too long of a wait, Frank emerges from the dimly light stairwell leading to the stage, straps on his acoustic and starts with the first song, Jinny Bingham’s Ghost, coincidentally the first song he wrote for No Man’s Land. The song is about a woman who lived in Camden Town who was labelled a witch because she ran an independent business in the 17th century, as independence in women during that time wasn’t deemed acceptable.
Her legacy however does live on, the bar that she built way back then is the gig venue The Underworld, which has been at the forefront of the London music scene for decades.
Next up is I Believed You, William Blake which contains a throwaway Million Dead riff that was deemed not good enough when Frank played it to the rest of the band 15 years ago, their standards were either stupidly very high or as Frank said they were idiots.
The Graveyard Of The Outcast Dead, Frank’s Christmas song follows along with Nica, his jazz song, with Frank mentioning that the song contains more chords than his entire first album did and also has a scat solo.
Hearing these new tracks, it’s safe to say No Man’s Land is a story telling record, a historic reference and stories of injustice women have had to endure over the centuries, although I know Frank is a bit of an eggyboff when it comes to history, hats off to him for tackling a subject such as this and giving these forgotten women some overdue attention.
Frank showcases other tracks from the album such as, Eye Of The Day and The Lioness, the latter being about Huda Sha’arawi, a pioneering Egyptian feminist leader, Frank mentions he actually met her Granddaughter who is now in her 70’s, she obviously didn’t have a clue who he or what rock music even was, but still seemed happy to hear she has been immortalised in a song.
Turner moves swiftly onto the first single from the album Sister Rosetta, now when I heard this, it was very reminiscent to something I’d heard before. After racking my brain, it was apparent the chorus had a passing resemblance to Stacey’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne and now that’s all I can hear, does Frank know this and is he’s paying homage to it?!
Before delving into his back catalogue of hits, Frank mentions that after a week of release No Man’s Land has reached number three in the charts, he’s quick to say thanks again and state ‘I know the charts are bullshit, but it made me feel good about myself for 20 seconds’, and he’s right to be proud.
With that the whole of the Brudenell are singing along to 1933, Get Better and Recovery from his fifth solo album, Tape Deck Heart, with the lyric change “So on the first night we met you said well darling let’s make a deal, If anybody ever asks us well let’s say that we met at the Brudenell” is received with huge screams of applause.
Photosynthesis, from 2008s Love, Ire & Song is next with Frank bellowing the lyric ‘I will not grow old’ to the delight of the crowd before finishing his set with The Ballad of Me and My Friends.
Frank possess the ability to write such engaging songs with true meaning and delivery, he has a loyal fan base who will happily pay and sit through both sets this evening and why not, he comes across as an extremely kind and humble chap who is always quick to thank his audience, as he knows they have afforded him to live out his dream.
Live Review & Photography by Mark Bromham of Frank Turner solo at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on 24th August 2019. To view more of Mark’s work please visit his photography site here: www.howayman.photography/livemusic