Frank Turner at Bluesfest [Review and Interview]

Review and gallery: JD Garrahy

Well, Bluesfest. You delivered. We’re all here to relish in the brilliance of fantastic music, but what we were delivered was so much more.

Trekking down from the Gold Coast to the haven of Byron Bay is amazing. When you have someone like Frank Turner to accompany you for the ride, it’s all the better.

The atmosphere for this performance is amazing. There are people with their small children, pensioners and mid generation patrons and what brings us all together is Frank Turner.

Opening up a stellar set with I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous and smashing straight into The Gathering, it’s clear that Turner is here to deliver the goods. Introducing himself to the crowd he explains that this is not a normal gig. This is gig number 2750 and he is, above better judgment, doing a shorts gig. Apologizing to the crowd at stage left for his pasty, English, un-tattooed shin, we move forward into one of the most all encompassing sets. If I Ever Stray and Recovery are up next and the crowd is here for the finest of sing-alongs.

Pausing momentarily to reflect on the fact that the Queensland government has decided that on Good Friday, Christ died for our sins, but we should not experience any joy on such a day, Turner hits the crowd with some realistic comedic perfection. This is not the last time we shall hear such humor. Re-introducing himself to the crowd with “i feel the need to reintroduce myself to everyone as they’re probably all wondering what all the yelling was about”, it’s perfect Turner wit.

Taking a brief moment to discuss his father, who recently came out as trans, he proclaims that he “honestly doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks”, to thunderous applause. As he starts playing Miranda, it’s clear that he doesn’t really care if the crowd is biased or not, he wants to tell his fathers story with all the respect it deserves.

We drop it down a notch and Turner decides to regale us with a small story of how his wife bought him the shirt for the gig and the song he wrote for her called The Work to which garners many laughs and cheers.

Frank can talk to every individual in the room while talking to the collective. He states quite clearly that he is “not a folk singer, but a punk rock kid that got an acoustic guitar for Christmas” to which we get a good chuckle. As he hits the first chord of Be More Kind, the crowd rejoices. A full scale song-along has just kicked off. Haven’t Been Doing So Well off his latest offering FTHC is met with a mass of people really relating to these lyrics. The ‘rona has really fucked us all as it seems.

Photosynthesis and The Ballad of Me and My Friends rings out the majority of the set but as Turner states “encores are bullshit anyways, so ‘Im gonna play a couple more, if you don’t mind?” And we get to experience the finale of such an all-encompassing set.

Encore? What encore? Fuck, this is how it’s supposed to be. Massive amounts of crowd interaction, dancing and an all around positive vibe that so many shows lack these days. Frank decided that the perfect closes to his set are Get Better and I Still Believe. I couldn’t agree more. The call and response of both tracks is just amazing, especially the latter. All in all, we’ve had an amazing set that cannot be rivaled.

Departing such an amazing set is damn hard. If you’re a fan, you know. If you weren’t before, you are now. We await your inevitable return Mr Turner.

The Everblack Podcast headed to Bluesfest Byron Bay over the weekend to have a chat with Frank Turner. Discussing the injustice of no beer on Good Friday in Queensland, 10 years of Tape Deck Heart and the elusive ‘Frank Turner In Shorts Gig”.


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