Live Review: Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls w/ The Lottery Winners support at York Barbican

By John Hayhurst
By February 2, 2023 Live, Reviews

Review and Photos – John Hayhurst

Frank Turner is one of the hardest gigging musicians around, just prior to Covid Lockdown 1 he played an acoustic solo gig at The Barbican in York and then during the pandemic resorted to gigging at home, drumming up some support to help his fellow musicians, roadcrew, and venues that were at risk of closure. Then he jets off to the US and does a gig in every state in the same number of days and starts this ‘never ending tour of everywhere’ with his backing band ‘The Sleeping Souls’. He does all this with heartfelt appreciation for every person that comes to a gig but offers 3 new resolutions – “Don’t be a Dick, Be More Kind and Lets Have More Circle Pits”. His Folky Punk is a massive hit everywhere and the joy you see on peoples faces as they are singing along to his back catalogue is cathartic enough to suggest it should be on monthly prescription for all our mental health.

We also have a bonus tonic in the Lottery Winners supporting on this tour and singer and (should be) comedian Thom Rylance runs through a tried and tested formula of self deprecating jokes which always work well – particularly at festivals and the band themselves are seeing their place on those line ups get higher and higher in the last 5 years, thanks to their gruelling schedule of playing anywhere they can. It is proper sunshine pop rock music, played with a smile on their faces, particularly bass player Katie Lloyd whose cheshire cat grin must give her faceache at the end of every gig.

Frank is buzzing to start playing live again in York, and makes reference to his previous gig here, this is gig number 2733 and he starts with ‘Recovery’ an apt opener for this tour which may never end this year, as he is booked for some festivals already. It only takes a few minutes before his white shirt is drenched in sweat, Frank knows no other way for a live show than to give 100% energy for his fans, thats why they come in droves to his shows.

Audience tonight are packed in at the front, it’s not quite sold out as there are a couple of sections blacked out in the upper tier. That doesn’t stop the first circle pit from appearing during Photosynthesis’. Starting slowly and building with the chorus, this is a well choreographed performance from the crowd here, no one is falling over..

Turner’s energy is amazing for a guy who it seems is now back constantly touring, he still gets a big kick out of hearing the crowd singalong to ‘I Still Believe’, this battle-weary soldier continues to fight when being egged on by the crowd. The camaraderie between band and audience is real, an overwhelming feeling of everybody is in this together – an evening when everyone knows the lyrics and sings their hearts out. It’s a shared empathetic performance from both sides of the stage.

“If you know the words, join in,” said Turner introducing one of his most recent songs. “If you don’t know the words, just listen first time round and you’ll get the idea.” Poignant newer songs like ‘There She Is’ sit alongside the likes of ‘Photosynthesis’ and ‘Love Ire and Song’ – classic early stuff from his 1stalbums.

A chance to catch your breath when he runs a couple of solo acoustic numbers particularly fan favourite ‘Thatcher Fucked the Kids’ but that is short lived as the non-stop juggernaut of get-up-and-go keeps on rocking into the night. A massive 26 song setlist. You don’t sit down, and you don’t shut up, or grow old at a Frank Turner gig. We came, we drank beer, we sang some great songs and we’ll do it all again whenever he is back in town.

SETLIST: Recovery, Try This At Home, Photosynthesis, Non Serviam, Haven’t Been Doing So Well, Long Live The Queen, Back In The Day, The Road, Little Changes, Punches, Untainted Love, Plain Sailing Weather, Little Life, Wessex Boy, Worse Things Happen At Sea, There She Is, Thatcher Fucked the Kids, Love Ire & Song, If Ever I Stray, The Next Storm, Out of Breath, I Still Believe ENCORE: A Wave Across a Bay, 1933, Get Better, Four Simple Words