Well, what an opening to day 1 at the roundhouse. After three years away, Frank Turner’s Lost Evenings has returned to its original home in Camden for 4 days of music and good times. Day 1 was an absolute belter of a day, and the perfect way to start the long weekend.
Officially opening the show was the ever-wonderful Beans On Toast. A Camden legend, he opened proceedings at the Assembly, with a little help from the main man himself. A few singalongs and a few beers were drank, setting the precedence for what was to come.
Then it was over to the roundhouse for the ‘proper’ acts of the night.
Opening the festival on the Nick Alexander stage was Jess Silk, a singer songwriter from Dudley whose songs were intensely personal, political or a healthy mix of both. She began with two songs off her first album, ‘Blitz Spirit’, were both heavily inspired by the pandemic capturing a longing for community. These songs were released but weeks ago and were met by devoted fans singing along to every lyric.
Jess Silk performed her songs with personality, dedication, and talent. Notably her songs emphasized what truly matters in life, captured in the song ‘A good pair of boots’. This song, which is an ode to her first pair of Dr Martens, related to much of the boot clad audience.
Her political songs such as ‘Stranger on the Tube’ affectionately known as ‘Racist Fucker on the Tube’ spread an important message challenging a passive bystander attitude and calling out racist rhetoric such as in the powerful line ‘They wave the flag, but they do not speak for me’. When coupled with her passion she made a strong opening to the festival!
Beans made a comeback to the main stage, being this years Master of Ceremonies, introducing the acts for the night. And the first introduction this year was the wonderful Emily Barker!
Bringing her mix of around the world culture, Emily’s music has something in it for nearly everyone. A real mix of styles, Emily sang songs about her home town in Australia, Sister Rosetta (got in before Frank could), and life and everything in between. A brilliant way to open up the main stage for acoustic sets.
Back over to the NA stage again, this time for two-piece band The Meffs. Hailing for Essex, this independent DIY noisy duo brought an energy like no other to the stage. It was loud, it was angry, it got down to the issues it needed to, it was everything you want, and need from a punk band wanting to make a point. These guys properly got the crowd moving for the first time of the weekend, with jumping around and moshing. Hopefully more of that to come!
The protest singer, Grace Petrie, performed before Frank turner and Matt Nassir on the main stage. She opened her highly praised political song ‘Farewell to welfare’ and was met by a highly enthusiastic crowd. Her performance was high energy and emotional.
Following this she performed heartfelt songs such as “inspired by the isolation of the pandemic and feelings of separation with the lyrics ‘I will love you forever and we’ll dance again next year’” capturing a beautiful sense of longing and love.
Similarly ‘Ivy’ dedicated to her niece conveyed the importance of love and family, within the context of Glastonbury Music Festival.
Back over the the NA stage for one more time for the evening, this time for Holy Moly and The Crackers! A band I hadn’t really heard of before last night, these guys rocked the stage like no other. As well as being loud and showcasing their awesome talent, I think there was every instrument available on that stage. As well as the classic drums, guitar and bass, there was a violin, accordion and even a trumpet. A true ska-punk band, and one I’m definitely going to be listening to more!
And then it was the main act of the night. Frank Turner and Matt Nasir entered that stage to a thunderous round of applause, and opened with The Gathering. There was no other way he could open really, and instantly the crowd were singing along. From my position in the photo pit, I think the crowd was louder than Frank!
But what a set it was that followed on! A real mix of old and new, including some songs off the new album FTHC, which was officially announced and went on pre sale yesterday!
I can’t let this review go by without specifically mentioning a couple of songs that were played. Tattoos, a rarely played song (which Frank did ‘real life Varley’), followed by A Wave Across A Bay (real tear-jerker) and then Romantic Fatigue was a killer three songs in a row. The whole crowd went from having a dance and a laugh, to tears in eyes, and then back to laughing and singing along. For an artist to that well, takes some good skill, and Frank certainly did that.
After Matt had returned from his ‘union break’, we were treated to a bit of Harmonica on Dan’s Song, another new song (Haven’t Been Doing So Well, also released yesterday), The Opening Act Of Spring and The Way I Tend To Be (both duo classics). Polaroid Picture was another emotional one, not least for me because it was the last Frank song I heard live pre-lockdown, and being back with those people singing that song was something else.
The penultimate song of the set was Frank and Matt’s classic duo cover, Somebody To Love, joined on stage by Grace and Emily from earlier, who were having an amazing time on stage, which made the whole thing even better.
And to top it all off, they just had to finish with Get Better. For me, this has been the motto of the last 18 months – we’ve all had difficult times but surrounded by the right people we can get better, because we’re not dead yet!
Keep your eyes peeled for our round ups over the coming days!
Review By Ted Stargatt and Lottie Williams for TrueStyleMusic