For the penultimate show of this leg of Frank Turner’s Never Ending Tour of Everywhere, Frank brought his entourage to Bristol’s O2 Academy for a sold out night of legendary music.
Before the show, I had the pleasure of chatting to Frank and Johnny from Pet Needs about both their new albums, the tour and all things music.
The show was opened by Mash P, who is originally from Sierra Leon. Mash used to live on the streets, until he was supported by Way Out Arts, who helped him get his music career up and going and get him off the streets. Mash is now in the UK and hoping to continue his music over here.
Although only a short 20 minute set, Mash blew away the crowd who turned up early, singing his traditional African songs, but with a contemporary twist. The man certainly has lots of energy, and was bouncing and dancing around the stage. For his last song he was joined on stage by Truckstop Honeymoon, really creating a mix of two different styles but that worked really well together.
You can find out more about Way Out Arts and their work here.
And it was without a break, Truckstop Honeymoon came to do their set. Husband and Wife act Mike and Katy West brought their traditional American travelling folk songs across the pond for their tour with Frank Turner. It’s difficult to put into words their style of set, between them they’ve got a great way of engaging with the crowd and are brilliant story tellers, both through their music and between songs. Before seeing them live for the first time I was unsure if I would enjoy their set, but I have gone away with another new band I would happily see live again. They even brought their son, Julian, who lives in Bristol, to support them on the drums.
Next up was Pet Needs, a band that increasingly needs less introduction to each show they play. The energy they bring to the stage is like an explosion, and since seeing them live for the first time back in 2021, these 4 boys have really have fallen into their own style and rhythm. They are confident without being arrogant, lively without being over the top.
This leg of the tour is the first time lots of the songs from their new album Primetime Entertainment have been played, and I can guarantee they are hitting the audience well. After their set finished I overheard someone who (somehow) had never heard Pet Needs before say “It’s good to see punk is still going”. Every show they are going away with more new fans.
Pet Needs are off on their own headline tour in December:
6 – Birmingham – Dead Wax
7 – Cardiff – Clwb Ifor Bach
8 – Bristol – Exchange
9 – London – The Grace
12 – Southampton – The Joiners
13 – Leeds – Hyde Park Book Club
14 – Manchester – Gullivers
15 – Nottingham – The Bodega
16 – Colchester – Arts Centre (SOLD OUT)
Tickets for all remaining shows available here.
And then it was time for the main act of the night.
Electric guitar in hand, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls came on stage and went straight into Four Simple Words, minus introduction. From the off, we knew this was going to be a hardcore show. Followed by Haven’t Been Doing So Well and Photosynthesis, which got the pit open, the set was looking to be a good mix of the old and the new.
Frank was playing a 2 hour set for this show, taking a full trip from the early years through to the new album – FTHC. Lots of the classics were played, including Plain Sailing Weather, One Foot Before The Other and The solo version of Long Live The Queen, as well as some of the not so often played songs, like There She Is, Love 40 Down and Thatcher. (Unlike a lot of shows on the tour so far, Thatcher was not ended with a certain ‘chant’)
The HC in FTHC stands for Hardcore, and the songs from the new album certainly live up to that title. Punches, Non Serviam and The Gathering were all played to a wild crowd, with a big mosh pit opening up and the whole of the crowd on their toes. Even up on the balcony I could feel the heat from everyone dancing and having a good time.
Everyone was jumping up and down for Polaroid Picture, before Get Better being the first big finish of the night. And after the short walk off and walk on, Frank returned with just his guitar to play us The Ballad, an instant crowd scream-along, always the loudest of the set.
The Sleeping Souls re-joined the stage for one last time to help Frank end the night with Recovery, Try This At Home and I Still Believe, being the final big finish of the night. Overall, it was a great night and a great penultimate performance from Frank, The Sleeping Souls, Pet Needs, Truckstop Honeymoon and Mash P.
And then Frank went off to Thekla to play a DJ set to a sold out boat.
Sadly there were two dampeners to the night. Firstly, a couple of the security guards at the O2 Academy who took it upon themselves to make the jobs of us photographers more difficult, by getting in the way and stopping us taking and crowd shots or photos outside the pit. And secondly to Thekla. Sadly, I don’t think anyone from the gig actually managed to get into the DJ set, as the ticket queue skip closed at 11, which was the same time the show ended. So the only option was to wait in a 2 hour queue and ultimately miss Frank’s DJ set. Really poor planning from the club in my opinion.
But other than that, it was a really good night, and as always a massive thank you goes to Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls, Pet Needs, Truckstop Honeymoon, Mash P, and everyone involved behind the scenes in making this show happen.
Frank is back on tour across the UK in the New Year, tickets available here now.
All words and photos by Ted Stargatt. No use without permission allowed.