May 15, 2017
The Roundhouse, London
On the fourth night of four of the inaugural Lost Evenings Festival at London’s iconic venue The Roundhouse, Frank Turner was joined by his Xtra Mile label mates Non Canon, Will Varley, Ducking Punches, Skinny Lister and Ben Marwood. Here’s a record of that special night.
“That didn’t fall on its face. I can’t say the same for myself later!”
Largely staying seated to perform, the line-up for the night was roughly in reverse order of movement, but there was no less passion by and for Non Canon than what bands like Skinny Lister would later bring. He was surrounded by fans who knew every lyric, and his words were delivered with intensity and purpose.
The anthemic song Bad Losers was modified with encouragement to vote in the upcoming elections (‘vote this year/get free beer’), stressing the need to avoid giving in to apathy despite repeated political disappointments. Another highlight was Crayola, cut with part of Common People by Pulp. We are, indeed, all indie kids at heart.
“It’s an organisation that shouldn’t have to exist”
Will Varley was vocal in his support for Safe Gigs For Women, making time for consciousness raising even during a relatively short set. Granted, he was among friends here on the Xtra Mile night at Lost Evenings. Still, there was no sense that he was daunted or swamped by the large stage and the sea of expectant faces staring up at him.
With supportive fans, deliciously deep vocals and strong songs like King For A King, We Don’t Believe You and Seize The Night, there’s no doubt that Varley was ready to headline larger stages of his own accord.
“Sing it if you know it, make it up if you don’t”
Those people on the front row in the main hall clearly wouldn’t be giving up their prime spots, but there were plenty that knew they were on to a good thing by spending time at the Nick Alexander stage. They were rewarded with intimate, intense performances like the one that Ducking Punches gave. Punk influenced singalongs included God Damn Coward and Six Years.
“For the video, I managed to smash a car windscreen with a sledgehammer, that was pretty fucking cool…and I got a cocktail named after me”
Singer, dancer and general bad-ass Lorna Thomas came out bold as brass, swigging from the flagon that would later pass from hand to hand through the crowd.
Skinny Lister’s new double bassist got an introduction to the strength of love that exists for the band as vast swathes of The Roundhouse crowd (and this photographer) danced and sung to every last word. It almost seemed a shame that they only had a ten song set, since the large stage clearly suited their bloody large band.
With folk-punk singalongs like Cathy, Trouble On Oxford Street and This Is War – plus frenetic moves to match – Skinny Lister proved, yet again, that they are one of the best live bands on the circuit hands down.
Time for one more sweaty, joyful singalong before Frank Turner’s set, and the honours went to Ben Marwood. He and the crowd more than obliged, with the kind of frenzy usually reserved for headliners. Safe Mode, Singalong and I Promise You That It Will Be OK were especially well received.
“No hugging yet, it’s too soon!”
The Wall of Hugs is a Frank Turner live staple so self-described kids’ band had a job on their hands to stop the crowd launching into the hug-pit too early. The duo had another interactive treat in store – a dance-off between two fans to iPod tunes.
And the winner was…
“How fucking scary is it to be a human being in 2017?”
On the Xtra Mle night of the festival – show four of four in Turner’s adopted hometown, to many of the same people (who had been quick enough to snap up a coveted festival pass) – Turner felt able to be honest.
He spoke about dark times after endless touring: “the streets of London looked how I felt – empty and drained.” The absolute state of politics and general intolerance was another source of ire (love and song): “it doesn’t matter where anybody’s fucking from. Who gives a shit?”
It wasn’t all deep, heart-on-sleeve stuff of course. His whimsical sense of humour came out strong, Xtra Mile style: “I found Will Varley in a bush…he has a glowing finger…then Skinny Lister who double as FBI agents…we got on a bike and flew in the air.”
The music was key, of course. The lyrically tight, insightful, honest, inspirational words that came alive on stage – with Turner and The Sleeping Souls giving everything they’ve got – once again showed their power to unite a crowd of thousands.
The success of the festival felt like affirmation for their years of touring and storytelling, so an epic greatest hits set seemed the perfect way to end it. From the opening chords of Get Better to the closing strains of Four Simple Words via the incomparably good I Still Believe, each song was greeted with raptures.
To be fair, it’s not surprising that the crowd at a show headlined by Frank Turner, as part of a festival curated by Frank Turner, was packed with Frank Turner fans.
Yet, one sign of a consummate professional is music and performance that transcends the immediate fanbase to catch the interest of others. At The Roundhouse that night, one security guard sang along to every song and spent the night stealing glances at the stage whenever possible. Even her burliest colleagues couldn’t suppress grins at the antics on stage and the enthusiasm amongst the fans, old and new.
Maybe that’s it – having the power to sustain the interest of fans after over a decade of incessant touring, and still hook new fans into this joyful madness every time, is the sign of something special. Roll on
Frankfest Lost Evenings 2018!
Festival passes for Lost Evenings 2018 long since sold out but if you’re lucky you might still grab a pass for an individual night. Either way, don’t miss out on Last minutes, a free riot of a weekend daytime festival at venues around Camden. There’s also a heady line-up of pre-shows, after-shows and surrounding shows too between May 10 and May 15. Check out the full itinerary at http://lostevenings.info/10thlm.html.