Frank Turner @ Birmingham Academy 21/03/10
It’s been a couple of months now since I last spent an evening enjoying the company of Mr Frank Turner and it’s fair to say he’s obviously gone up in the world since his autumn 2009 tour.
Chuck Ragan @ Birmingham Academy 21/03/10
Back in 2009 I went to see him in Wolverhampton with a couple of songs in my head and a budding interest in the self proclaimed ‘Skinny, half-arsed English country singer’ and his unique brand of folk/punk. Since that show, I’ve become a bona-fide Frank Turner fan, and Sunday’s gig in the more prominent venue of Birmingham’s O2 Academy 1, was absolutely phenomenal!
Chuck Ragan @ Birmingham Academy 21/03/10
The academy changed location fairly recently, and while the relocation has meant that the venue is now bigger, more accessible and a lot more pleasant, the major failing is the severe lack of parking near the venue. Unfortunately this meant that we missed Frank’s first support, his ‘New Favourite Band’: Crazy Arm. Crazy describe themselves as a ‘Hard-twang, roots-punk quartet’ from Devon, and I have to admit I’m a bit of a fan so it was a real blow to have missed them on stage. They’ve been causing a stir with the release of their debut album, ‘Born to Ruin’, last year. Since then they’ve been taking over the underground scene with their own brand of punk with a strong political, but not preachy edge and collecting rave reviews left right and centre.
Frank Turner @ Birmingham Academy 21/03/10
The second support came in the form of Chuck Ragan, an American singer-songwriter whose folky-punky sounds set the audience up nicely for Mr Turner. His passionate set included some spectacular playing from his band using some of the lesser-seen instruments of punk; the Violin, Double Bass and Banjo. Their set was an absolute treat to watch and music to the ears (pun intended) of the crowd eagerly awaiting the arrival of Frank.
Frank Turner @ Birmingham Academy 21/03/10
Since his days in ‘Hot Water Music’, Chuck has gone solo, producing some amazing songs with his band of close-knit musician friends. His sound reminds us all about how wonderful music can be. There are no rules, just good music and I think it’s fair to say we don’t have enough of that these days!

After Chuck had played his last, it was time for Frank Turner to take to the stage. He walked on as the packed Academy went mental, casually strumming out the opening chords of ‘Photosynthesis’ and grinning from ear to ear. While his venues have got bigger, it’s clear to see how touched he still is to see so many people there to see him play.
Frank Turner @ Birmingham Academy 21/03/10
He played into his second song – one of my favourites – ‘Try this at Home’ with an infectious, rebellious energy that sparked the crowd into jumping and singing along. Each track dripped with a sort of sophisticated angst that sets the music of Frank Turner apart from the rest. It was hard not to get involved either by jumping with the crowd or simply standing and watching, completely absorbed in the music.
Frank Turner @ Birmingham Academy 21/03/10
The audience were a great bunch, from the young teenage girls in the front row to the older ladies and gentlemen gathered around the edge of the crowd, everyone was there to have a great time and listen to some good music. Happy to oblige, Frank played through a set filled with familiar favourites and brand new tunes with a striking competency that isn’t often seen on stage. But for all his technical competency, his modesty always shines through. One particular moment in the middle of ‘Sons of Liberty’ saw him perform a complicated guitar solo he’d apologised in advance for with jaw-dropping accuracy.
Frank Turner @ Birmingham Academy 21/03/10
Ever the crowd pleaser, he called upon one of his fans to come on stage and perform a harmonica solo for ‘Dan’s Song’ a nice touch that I’d seen first time around in Wolverhampton. The ‘Skinny Half-Arsed English Country Singer’ wrapped up the set by inviting a member of each of his support acts back on stage to play ‘Revival Song’, a song written on the revival tour where they first got together.
Frank Turner @ Birmingham Academy 21/03/10
Frank Turner said goodnight to Birmingham with another favourite ‘The Road’, an anthem dedicated to the wonders of the world and a reminder that ‘only being shackled to the road, can ever [we] be free’. All in all, it was a fantastic gig. While I was upset to have missed Crazy Arm, Frank Turner and Chuck Ragan more than made up for it with a night of outstanding folk-punk that will stay with me for ages.

Set List
Try This at Home
Richard Divine
Poetry of the Deed
Father’s Day
Dan’s Song
To Take You Home
Faithful Son
Long Live the Queen
Our Lady of the Campfires
Sons of Liberty
Back in the Day
Reasons Not to be an Idiot

Revival Song (Featuring Chuck Ragan)
St Christopher
The Road

Photography and words by Kat Page

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