Frank Turner @ Southampton Guildhall, 7/12/2010

With the weather outside taking a turn for the worst, and snow sweeping in across the country putting half the population on hold, it’s good to see that people still make it out for a good gig when they see one. It’s nothing short of a miracle that half the bands have managed to make it to the Guildhall this night with icy roads taking out all transport, but made it they have and Southampton welcomes them into the cavernous hall for tonight’s show.

The crowd is pretty thinly spread and half still in their outside coats when Oxford’s own Dive Dive open up the show, and even though their lyrics come across as perhaps a little overly simplistic, their mix of heavy and angular indie rock gains a pretty fair reaction from the sparse crowd. Their new single Liar and The Point Is (a song, ironically, about playing small venues) get people to pay attention rather than drink, and especially their song they wrote about Planet of the Apes to which they promise anyone who can spot a second Sci-Fi reference in the song a free piece of merchandise from their table. Dive Dive have managed to bring a crowd together despite people obviously being more interested in getting warm from the outside, which is no easy job, so it would be interesting to see what would happen when they add more dynamics to their songs and lyrics.

On the other end of the musical scale, main support Ed Harcourt appears on stage looking very dapper and surrounded by a veritable orchestra of different instruments. It’s fair to say that from the get-go, Ed Harcourt’s music is absurdly haunting and slightly magical as he comes on stage, picks up a guitar and just starts playing without any introduction. Ed Harcourt’s songs like the instruments he uses, constantly change tone but always stay complex and moving and straight from the soul. His impressive variety of music consists of him starting with a guitar, then moving to a piano, then a piano and a guitar, to a banjo and a vocoder, to a piano, drum, guitar, vocoder AND a trombone put through a loop. As if all of this wasn’t impressive enough, Ed Harcourt manages to do everything he does with such a tinge of soul to his songs that you end up wondering exactly what it is he’s writing about when he makes songs like Heart of a Wolf where he gets the audience to howl at the moon with him. Before clearing the stage for the main act, Ed Harcourt treats the audience tonight to a Christmas song to start getting people in the spirit of the season, questionably titled Devil Came Down The Chimney, a slightly dark and twisted tale of Christmas joy. Christmas Number One material it might not be, but nevertheless it still manages to impress.

Because the lights in the Guildhall stay dimmed before Frank Turner takes to the stage, when he does so it’s completely unannounced as he and his band appear on the stage, all dressed in white shirts and suited up for the evening. “I’m Frank Turner, and I’m from Winchester. I’ve got some good news and bad news,” announces Turner to the crowd anxiously waiting to hear what he has to say. “I was talking to my doctor before the show, and he said that I’m too sick and I shouldn’t play the show.” Every member of the crowd at this point is understandably preparing themselves for disappointment. “The good news is I told him to go fuck himself!” Ecstatic cheers from every member of the crowd ensues as Frank Turner starts out his set with Eulogy, before moving on to Poetry of the Deed, the lyrics of which truly set the tone for the evening, and then on to latest single Try This At Home.

Frank Turner’s recently released 5 track EP Rock and Roll is still selling well among those already familiar with his work, but that’s not what he’s pushing on here tonight. Instead we get an eclectic mix of some of Frank Turner’s most meaningful and heartfelt of songs, perhaps best shown in the way he goes from new EP release I Still Believe, to a song from an album he wrote with a friend of his in America in 4 hours entitled The Ballad Of Steve (about a true story of a pilot that walked off a plane before take off after getting fed up with his job), to his famous Love, Ire and Song.

One of the biggest appeals of Frank Turner live, besides his obvious ability to lead a crowd in his amazing array of true-blue punk rock songs, is his ability to tell a story. And so, when he recalls an anecdote about his recurring dreams of sitting and talking with Bob Dylan who says absolutely nothing to him in his dreams, it’s like he’s talking to a crowd of people who have all been his personal friend for years. And perhaps that’s exactly how he feels. Either way, this leads him to play his song about Bob Dylan for everyone in the room as a personal thank you for putting up with his illnesses.

“I’m really sick, so I’m going to need everyone to sing as much of the next few songs as they can for me,” Turner kindly asks of the crowd before he finishes his main set with the anthemic rise to arms of Sons Of Liberty and the highly well received insight into the life of a travelling musician The Road, both of which the crowd know entirely off by heart and take Frank Turner up on his offer of singing the words as loudly and proudly as they possibly can. To round off what has already been an incredible set despite obvious setbacks of illness; Frank Turner and his band grace the stage once again for an encore of Ballad of Me and My Friends and ending in the huge sing-along of Photosynthesis, the chorus of “I won’t sit down, I won’t shut up” being reflective of the entire attitude of the evening as a whole.

 “If this were anywhere else in the country, I wouldn’t have played the show, but this is my home” Frank claimed before the end of the show, and it’s fair to say that each and every member of the crowd tonight thanked their stars that he did – because this is a show you wouldn’t have wanted to miss!

When bands lose members…

The news was released yesterday (December 18th), though an official press release on the bands website that Josh and Zac Farro (guitarist and drummer respectively) of Paramore have decided to leave the band, leaving Hayley Williams as the only original member of the line up (since Jeremy Davies joined the band on their second album and Taylor York became an official band member before their third). According to their press release, this has been a decision that the band knew was coming since the Farro brothers said that they would be departing from the band at the end of the year a while ago, and the band have kept it to themselves up until now. That was, until a fake blog post revealed the information without the bands consent and they have now come clean about it. I’m not going to blub and say that the world is over because Paramore have lost a couple of members, but it is always a shame when one of the bands you listen to a lot lose a member.

Obviously there have been worse tragedies – 2010 saw us lose Ronnie James Dio to cancer, and Slipknot bassist Paul Gray passed away as well, so there are always worse things that can happen, and I’m not saying this entirely exclusively about Paramore, but it does raise an interesting subject.

I’ve got to say, I’m a bit upset but I’m also a little curious as well. Don’t get me wrong, its sad that they feel the need to leave the band to go about things differently, but in fairness to them Josh is married now and is probably starting a family and can’t be on the road, and Zac is probably starting down the same road because he doesnt want to lose contact with his brother. Paramore obviously won’t be the same without them, no band ever is when they lose members, but after this I think a series of things could happen:

1) It’s likely that Josh and Zac will realise that Paramore actually IS where they’re happiest and there will be a big reform splattered over the music press and they’ll sell loads more of their new album they are to start writing soon because of it.

2) Because there’s only 3 members of the previous line-up left, they’ll probably form some kind of new band (as they should if nearly half of the original line-up isnt there anymore) and go in a new direction which will be fresh, different and interesting.

3) It will take the eye off of Hayley for a bit. Don’t get me wrong (again) I think Hayley is brilliant and sings really well, but no matter how much she tries to deny it Paramore will always be about her. It’s mostly not even her fault –  it’s the way press works, as they need a face to put to the name and its normally the front-person. So it just stands to reason that the bigger Paramore got, that would mean Hayley would always be that much bigger until she became what the band was about in some peoples eyes. So perhaps this will allow them to take a sabaticle and rework their image in the press a little.

4) I know Josh and Zac are obviously very good at what they do, but perhaps whoever they get in to play for them will be even better and it will almost be like starting over again, so Paramore will go back to playing some smaller venues and re-discover themselves all over again. Which will make it better for the fans as they will be able to see them playing in the kinds of venues they started out in.

5) They’ll break everything off entirely and Hayley will accept the persona shes now become in the press and embark on Solo projects of her own. Personally, I really liked the song she did for the Jennifer’s Body soundtrack as it was acoustic and also pretty punk as welll – like Hayley was doing Frank Turner songs. More of that would be very welcome!

So, why am I posting this exclusively about Paramore when bands split or members move on all the time? Because it struck me that no matter how much a band means to people or an individual, there is life after a line-up change. And sometimes its for the better. Coheed And Cambria changed their drummer after there was problems in the band and now Chris Pennie has added a new dynamic to their whole technical sound. Taking Back Sunday seem to change their guitarist each album they release, and they still keep selling records.

For those incredibly dedicated to a band such as Paramore, it’s easy to understand how they can become so much more than just a band. For the loyal fans, they’re not just a band, they’re all individuals that are playing music, and it’s all about who they are and what they do. They become so much more than a name, they actually become people you know intimately, and when one or more of those people leave that band that you love it’s like a friend moving away. But ultimately, it doesn’t mean that their music no longer exists – the records you have will always be there as a reminder of what they gave you, and they’re not going anywhere unless you sell them!

Ultimately, this is more than about Paramore really. I’ll openly admit that I love the band, but this happens all the time and it affects people differently, but bands will always make music as long as its what they love doing.

Whatever happens, its a shame they felt the need to split, but I’m dubious and interested as to what will come next.

The End.

LISTED Film Previews – December ’10

It’s December already? When the hell did that happen?! Ok, believe me, I’m not complaining about the fact that I can now wake up to a small chocolatey treat every morning, but it would be nice if I had at least some of my Christmas shopping done and dusted already! I suppose I had better get on with it and blitz my credit card on some online stores! In the meantime, for those of you out there who have already done your shopping, here are some film previews for you to read:

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER (12A) (Dir. Michael Apted)

There is a certain amount of scepticism accompanying the release of this third instalment in the Narnia franchise, mainly down to a change of both production companies AND directors. However, with Voyage of the Dawn Treader now being backed by the same company that released Avatar (Fox) there is potential for as much of a marketing blanket as there was before. In this instalment, the Pevensie children once again get swept away to the magical world of Narnia where they re-unite with King Caspian (Ben Barnes) and take a trip on the royal ship The Dawn Treader to their greatest adventure yet, encountering dragons, merfolk and more on their voyage to the edge of the world. Plenty of potential for great 3D here, but without the backing from Disney, will it have quite the same “magical” quality it originally had? Released December 10th.

TRON: LEGACY (PG) (Dir. Joseph Kosinski)

The follow-up to one of the biggest cult sci-fi hits ever finally hits screens this month, following nearly a couple of years of gradually building hype. Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) gets sent to investigate a signal from his father’s old arcade decades after he went missing. When he does, he too is sucked into the futuristic cyber world of TRON where his dad Kevin (Jeff Bridges) has been trapped for 20 years. After reuniting with each other, they team up with warrior Quorra (Olivia Wilde) to take down the Master Control Program. Disney are releasing this in competition with their old franchise of Narnia, so you can expect this to tick all the right boxes to make sure they bring the crowds in. Everything that made the original great is now upgraded, so expect some immense 3D light cycle action! Make sure you see this! Released December 26th.

MEGAMIND (PG) (Dir. Tom McGrath)

From the same people that brought us How To Train Your Dragon and Shrek comes Will Ferrell’s answer to Despicable Me. Ferrell plays Megamind, the most notorious super-villain Metro City has ever seen. But after he finally defeats his heroic opposite Metro Man, he creates himself a new foe who turns even more evil than him. Now, Megamind might have to use his powers… for good! Also starring Jonah Hill, Tina Fey and Brad Pitt, Megamind could easily crush comedic opposition like Little Fockers, and if this works out well for Ferrell then perhaps Anchorman 2 might not be so far off after all… Released December 3rd.

GULLIVER’S TRAVELS (PG) (Dir. Robert Letterman)

Jack Black renews the old story as Lemuel Gulliver, a journalist who gets transported to an island in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle where he is a giant among the civilisation of the Lilliputians and eventually becomes part of their community. This is perhaps a slightly unusual turn of character considering what Jack Black is capable of from past ventures, but the fact the production company wouldn’t let him open for Pearl Jam (a lifelong dream of his) shows that dedication has been put into this, so let’s hope it’s all worth it! Released December 26th.

As published in Listed Magazine and on www.listedmagazine.com