Live Review: Frank Turner at The Forum, Bath. With Jess Guise and Micah Schnabel.

With all the news going around recently, we were unsure if Frank’s show last night would be going ahead. But after confirmation in the morning via Twitter, we were all set to go, and what a night it was.

The background art of the show was provided by Vanessa Jean Speckman, a textual and visual pop-up artist.

The night was opened by the fabulous Jess Guise. After marrying Mr Turner back in the summer last year, Jess has gone on to release an EP with her band GUISE. She played a few lifted from the EP, including the title track The Fun Part. The 8 track set consisted of songs from heartbreak land, songs about Frank and the final one, Brother In Arms, a tribute to her father.

Up next was Micah Schnabel, all the way from Ohio. Armed with his “ART OR DIE” inscribed guitar, Micah played us 12 of his songs, including songs about hope, capitalism, fast food restaurants and a road trip in America. Some of Micah’s pieces also consisted of some spoken word poetry, which captivated the audience.

And then it was time for the main man to enter the stage. Frank opened his set with The Ballad Of Me and My Friends. An instant crowd singalong, this song immediately set the tone for the night. This was followed by I Knew Prufrock, another crowd mover, and although Frank didn’t have the sleeping souls there with him, the energy from both him and the crowd were unbeatable. The almost chronological set that Frank was playing made whole night feel pretty wonderful.

Long Live The Queen, a song initially dedicated to an old friend of Frank’s was played next. Although over 10 years old, this song is still an amazing tribute and one many of us can relate to.

Not played very often, This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The One Of Me, followed. I don’t think Frank has played this song since I last saw him live back in February 2019. After The Road and If Ever I Stray were played, we were treated to a slightly contradictory second song about Frank’s home town. Wessex Boy, a more positive song about going back home, had the crowd on backing vocals for the “Ba Ba Ba” part, which gave the Forum a community feel.

The Way I Tend To Be and The Next Storm, one that was very appropriate for all of us who were out there last night, were played next. I know that this group of people were not going to spend the whole of their lives indoors. This proceeded 1933, another appropriate song for most of us who have no idea what’s going on any more.

The chronological set list continued with Don’t Worry, before a speech about integrity and humanity from Frank, and how, with a little bit of kindness, we can all do something to make this world a better place. Be More Kind, the title track from Frank’s second most recent album continued to make the community feel of Frank’s show grow even more, by reminding us that together, we are more than the sum of our parts.

Jinny Bingham’s Ghost  and The Lioness, lifted from No Mans Land were played next. Frank told us a story of how he got in contact with Huda Sha’arawi’s granddaughter, who was in her 70s before publishing the song. Although she had no clue who Frank was, he told us he hopes she will come to a show one day and hear us all sing along to it. And sing we did. Not a single person in the audience wasn’t joining in, just in case she had decided to come to the Bath show, which, although unlikely, was not impossible.

A particular favourite of mine, Pass It Along, came after, before an unreleased song that Frank has dedicated to his wonderful wife Jess. The Work, which a few people have heard before from other shows, captivated the audience. This was followed by Get Better, another one that got the crowd shouting along with “NOT DEAD YET”, and then Recovery, one that properly got the crowd moving.

Photosynthesis, one that most people are used to be a set opener came after. Although not normally where most people expect it to be in the show, it still got the crowd moving, along with some words from Frank in the middle, and a pseudo walk-on-walk-off and getting the crowd to chant “ONE MORE SONG”. I can safely say, most of us didn’t sit down and all of us didn’t shut up for the rest of the set.

I Still Believe and Polaroid Picture concluded the night, with people joining arms with friends and family, and singing the night away together. We really don’t know where we are going to be this time next year, so spending the night with those you care about really was the best way to do it.

After his cracking set, Frank headed over to Po Na Na’s to play a DJ set, while everyone who joined him there danced the night away.

And with that, a massive thank you must go to Jess Guise, Micah Schnabel, The Forum venue staff and security, the staff at Po’s and, of course, Frank Turner for making the night extra special.

£1 from every ticket sold on this tour is going to Way Out Arts in Sierra Leon. More can be found out about them here.

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