Gig Review by Simon Saynor with Photography by Mark Loraine

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Anyone who knows me will know I love a good name drop so let’s get that out of the way first. I was lucky enough to be involved with a live interview with Frank Turner on Sine FM the afternoon of the gig. I mention this not only for shameful name dropping but also because one of the things we touched on was support acts for the tour. Frank hand picks his support acts and they are invariably worth watching.

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I first saw Esmé Patterson supporting Frank 18 months ago doing a solo set. She’d just released the brilliant Woman To Woman, an album of songs written from the perspective of women sung about in previous songs (Jolene, Billie Jean, Eleanor Rigby etc. You get the idea). Tonight she has the full band and follow up album We Were Wild for our enjoyment. An early start but thankfully a sizeable crowd is already in attendance. Superbly crafted songs, a seriously tight band and Esmé’s voice is just gorgeous. No River in particular has Esmé’s voice circling round an infectious hook that just takes over body and soul. You think you have Esmé pegged in the folk/rock category until she asks if we want another slow song or do we want to rock out? The Dome will never be my favourite venue but it always seems to attract the rock out crowd. We’re firmly in blues/rock territory with ‘Loretta’. It’s magnificent, Esmé showing she is as diverse as she is talented. It’s an excellent way to start the evening and the bar is firmly set high.

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Earlier in the day Frank had described Felix Hagan And The Family as a cross between Rocky Horror and Meat Loaf and fully admitted they seemed to have split his fan base 50/50. Doncaster was definitely in the approving 50% and rightly so. It’s all feather boas, glitter, blistering guitar solos and catchy tunes. Music should make you run the whole gamut of emotions, from unadulterated joy to contemplative soul searching and everything in between, but primarily it should entertain. Felix Hagan and his sparkly troupe entertained. Halfway through the first song I’m still unsure of just what I’m watching, by the end of set closer ‘Kiss The Misfits’ I’m grinning like a fool. They are, to put it very simply, fun. In a time when we need all the fun we can get Felix Hagan And The Family deliver.

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So onto Frank Turner’s show number 1,982 and his first visit to Doncaster. He apologises many times for not playing Doncaster in his 11 year career. 1,982 shows in 11 years – just do the maths on that. No-one gigs as hard as Frank Turner. He could be excused for not giving it his all every night but that’s not his way. I’ve never known him do less than 2 hours and he never leaves anything on stage. And he takes us through the whole gamut of emotions we mentioned earlier.

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He walks on stage alone in his traditional white shirt and black jeans and goes straight into ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’ as he sings the rest of The Sleeping Souls join him and before we know it we’re three songs in, the crowd all over ‘I Still Believe’. Frank Turner is a master at getting a crowd fully involved. As he says “It’s up to you guys just how much fun you have”. The crowd, as always, are up for it. ‘I Still Believe’ is an impassioned statement on the power of music. Doncaster most definitely believes. It’s as close to religion as I get. I can barely hear Frank on ‘I Am Disappeared’ and ‘Polaroid Picture’ as the crowd take over.

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Esmé Patterson joins Frank and The Sleeping Souls on stage for ‘Silent Key’ as things are slowed down before we’re treated to just Frank and his guitar. From raucous to intimate with breath-taking ease. We even get some very early Frank with Million Dead’s ‘Smiling At Strangers On Trains’. His solo take on ‘The Way I Tend To Be’ is a sublime, heart wrenching triumph.

The full band are back on stage as we gallop towards the set’s end. Way too soon ‘Photosynthesis’ is introduced as the last song, not before Frank splits the crowd with talk of a wall of death. It becomes a wall of hugs. It may sound cheesy but it is a truly beautiful moment, one that not many acts could pull off.

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There is a unity at a Frank Turner gig that I rarely feel at other gigs. It matters to Frank that everyone feels involved and goes home with the sense of just having been part of something very special. The enjoyment of the crowd feeds the band and vice versa.

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First encore is Counting Crows’ ‘Anna Begins’ before the band launch into ‘Recovery’, ‘Get Better’ and show closer ‘Four Simple Words’. There’s tag team crowd surfing involving the guitar tech and his brother, Frank serenading bass player Tarrent Anderson (my favourite bass player. The shapes he throws…!) and finally Frank himself having a brief foray into the “Team Doncaster” crowd.

You’re left emotionally and physically drained but desperately wanting more. To see Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls is to see a band at the top of their game – a mesmerising, all-encompassing inspiration.

Frank Turner Set List:
I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous

The Next Storm
I Still Believe
Losing Days
Try This at Home
I Am Disappeared
Glorious You
Polaroid Picture
Silent Key
Long Live the Queen
Journey of the Magi
The Real Damage
Smiling at Strangers on Trains
The Way I Tend to Be
The Opening Act of Spring
Reasons Not to Be an Idiot
If Ever I Stray
Out of Breath
Photosynthesis
Encore:
Anna Begins
Recovery
Get Better
Four Simple Words

One Response to “Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls + Felix Hagan And The Family + Esmé Patterson at The Dome, Doncaster, UK – 23rd November 2016”

  1. Frank Turner @ The Doncaster Dome | Says:

    […] both excellent but my GigJunkies colleague and friend Simon Saynor covered them so well in his own review that I urge you to read that […]

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