A real head Turner stands behind our struggling small venues

Singer-songwriter Frank Turner
Singer-songwriter Frank Turner
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Singer-songwriter Frank Turner returns to the North West in the New Year, re-visiting theindependent venue which helped launch his career, as it struggles to survive

Frank Turner’s last three years have seen him open up at the London Olympic Games in 2012, headline the 02 Arena in front of 20,000 of his own fans, and even perform at Wembley Stadium.

He has also featured high up the bill at an abundance of high-profile festivals worldwide.

The Bahrain-born, Eton-educated songsmith’s music career began in school in Hampshire, and soon progressed into him fronting post-hardcore group Million Dead.

The band split in 2005, citing irreconcilable differences. However, his own career has shift-changed considerably since he became solo – and has blossomed into something much greater ever since.

Of the numerous festivals Turner has played worldwide, he has consistently gone down a storm – no matter what type of crowd he is performing to.

Rock and metal crowds, traditional folk crowds and younger, more mainstream pop crowds - the response is always huge.

It may therefore come as a fair surprise to see the recent announcement - he is confirmed to play a more intimate set at the Night & Day Cafe in Manchester on January 28.

It could be quite a different beast to the superb arena-sized spectacles his fans have become accustomed to.

It harks back to a time earlier in his career when he appeared on countless occasions on that very same stage.

Just Frank and a guitar, to an increasingly loyal and gradually – over time – more sizeable crowd.

These days, Frank is backed up on stage by his full band, The Sleeping Souls.

Crucially, he has not lost that precious connection with the fans, and his trademark sing-along anthems remain.

His return is, for the most part, to show his continued support for independant venues that have faced possible closure - after Night & Day was the subject of noise complaints from local residents. It is also a venue which he holds particularly fond memories of personally.

“It’s for Independent Venue Week.

“I’ve played Night & Day many times in the past, and I’ve been following their problems lately as closely as I can.

“It’ll be fun to come back and show some support for the place.”

Independent Venue Week is a 7 day long series of gigs running from January 26 to February 1, and operating at at least 85 venues.

This is the second year in a row it will have gone ahead.

Support has come from many big name artists in addition to Frank, and all of them seem united in one goal - to preserve the backbone of our music industry and make sure we do not lose this vital part of our country’s heritage, especially at local community level.

These venues are where bands form and play for the very first time, and without them we would have nowhere for these upcoming acts to go.

Small venues are also the best place to see an already established act in a more compact environment, and to really feel a part of the show.

Frank, alongside many others, has called for a change in the law - unbelievably at present, a newly-arrived resident or two could file a noise complaint against a long-standing venue of 20 years, and it suffer the very real possiblity of being shut down.

Sybil Bell, a co-founder of Independant Venue Week said “Having Frank Turner as our Ambassador is fantastic.

“Not only is Frank a great campaigner for small venues but he is one of the hardest working musicians in the industry having played over 70 gigs this year alone.

“He’s played pretty much all the venues we have as part of Independent Venue Week and so has a real personal connection to them.

“You can’t beat someone championing a cause that is so closely connected to it.”

Gareth Butterworth, of Night & Day, added “He has been brilliant in voicing his support for Night & Day this year during our noise issues. Small venues are massively important to musicians and to fans.”

Frank recently celebrated the release of his latest album The Third Three Years, his third collection of B-sides and rarities to date.

“It’s a collection of non-album odds and sods. We did the first one because there were a bunch of early-doors EPs and so on that were going out of print.”

“Three years later it made sense to do another, and this time around I actually had people bugging me to make sure we got it out before the end of this year.

“They’re fun, if a little frivolous. Hopefully there’s something new and interesting for everyone on there, even the most die-hard fans.”

Despite his success Frank remains courteous, truly grounded and accessible to his fans.

He is also unwaveringly passionate about the causes he holds dear.

Most of all, he is simply appreciative of the position he finds himself in and the ability to earn a living doing what he loves the most.

“I feel privileged to be able to do things like throw a last minute show in Chicago and have 400 people show up.”

“I got to play on stage with NOFX and The Weakerthans, which I still don’t quite believe happened - I’ve been all over the world playing music.”

“Mostly though I’m just proud – and a little relieved –to be doing this as a full time living for over a decade now.

“I told my friends and family I wo uld when I was a kid and they laughed at me, but...I did it.”

Frank Turner appears in Manchester on January 28, and The Third Three Years is available now.