Published: 10/12/2012 10:23 - Updated: 07/12/2012 10:31

Stadium star Frank won't forget fans

Frank Turner
Frank Turner: he went to Eton, don'tcha know.

IT has, Frank Turner admits, been a "pretty bonkers" year.

The former frontman of punk outfit Million Dead who turned down the volume to re-invent himself as a solo troubadour, discovered he had a very influential fan in film director Danny Boyle, the man charged with planning the opening ceremony for the London Olympics.

If playing to an audience of millions around the world as part of that ceremony was not enough, Turner also chalked up another career highlight this summer when he played to thousands at his own headline show at Wembley.

However, the Highland fans who have seen him on previous visits to The Ironworks, where he appears next Tuesday, or at Belladrum can rest easily with Turner’s promise that he has no plans on becoming a stranger.

"I fully intend to keep coming to places like Inverness," he said.

This was the thinking behind his current tour, Turner’s way of showing his fans he was not one of those musicians who retreated to big venue tours once his audience grew.

However, after booking the full band tour, fans pointed out he had only included one Scottish date.

"I looked at that and thought: fair enough. So we’ve added more shows, but it’s worked out for various logistical reasons these are all going to be solo shows," he explained.

"It’s a different thing presentationally and musically playing solo rather than with a band, but on the flip side I’m still playing the same catalogue of songs and still fulfilling my basic purpose in life, which is to entertain a room full of people."

We might not be getting the full Frank Turner band experience in Inverness, but as someone used to slipping between band and solo format, Turner promises to bring a touch of rock and roll to even his acoustic gigs.

"I like to think there are elements of both in both types of show that I do," he said.

"For full band shows there is a fair bit where it is just me and my guitar to retain that conversational aspect.

"At the same time, when I do solo shows, there’s an element of the more kind of showmanshippy elements and rock and roll.

"I do enjoy the solo shows. Conversational is the right word because I generally do ramble and make up stories and have fun with it. You also don’t have to have a set list in mind when you are playing. If I suddenly change my mind, I don’t have to turn round and check with other people."

The hard-gigging Turner — recently nominated for a Hardest Working Act as well as Best Live Act Award — went on tour straight from working on his fifth album, the follow up to the very successful England Keep My Bones, so expect a taster of what we can expect to when it is released next spring.

"I like playing new songs," he said.

"At the same time I’ve been to see bands I like playing sets consisting entirely of new songs and I find that a bit boring, so I’ll be playing the songs that people want to hear."

Turner’s part in the Olympics Opening Ceremony is something he looks back on as a surreal experience.

"I’m still not entirely sure that it actually happened and I’m not sure it was happening as I was actually doing it," he added.

"The surrealness wasn’t helped by the fact that I was surrounded by hundreds of people dressed as miners and cricket players and that sort of thing — if you are standing there trying to convince yourself that you are not dreaming, that doesn’t help!"

Even so, he was still able to enjoy the occasion and adds that being asked specifically by Danny Boyle to take part was a great honour.

"I really don’t consider myself a nationalist or a patriot, contrary to what some people think, but being in the midst of that completely insane maelstrom, there was a flicker of something in the blackness of my heart," he said.

"It’s the only Olympics that is going to happen in my country in my lifetime and to be asked to be part of it was pretty great. When everyone’s forgotten who I am and thrown my albums away, that is something people can’t take away."

Playing to 12,000 of his own fans at his sold out Wembley Arena show was overwhelming in a different way, but had a very different vibe to his Olympics appearance.

"It felt like a natural step and the culmination of a lot of work," he said.

"The thing I was trying to do with that show more than anything else was retain a sense of intimacy and community — which is obviously easier said than done in an arena setting.

"It’s something I spent a lot of time thinking about, but unfortunately there are no manuals to tell you how to do it!"

• Frank Turner is at The Ironworks, Academy Street, Inverness, on Tuesday.

Support comes from Tim Barry and Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun.

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