Frank Turner playing at Academy 2 on a Friday night? A quiet acoustic set to wind down from a busy week, well - that's what I thought...
Checking the set times I discovered Frank Turner was indeed headlining Academy 2 but with his hardcore punk band Möngöl Hörde. It would have been easy to draw a line under the evening but inquisition got the better of me as I prepared myself to get the sh#t kicked out of me mentally and physically for two hours.
I spent the half hours’ notice I had listening to their back catalogue on Spotify, apologies if you are somehow a huge Möngöl Hörde fan reading this wanting to know which songs they played and how they sound – I haven’t a clue but here’s what I saw.
I got in with time to spare and the venue was busy. I tried to gauge what I’d let myself in for from the crowd; a good mix of young and old rockers with a few nightmarish creatures stood at the epicentre of where the mosh pit will be. The boys come on stage and I get my first glance at the band, the three piece are obviously all good mates and Frank comes bouncing on with a hoodie done up tight, a possessed version of his usual acoustic self.
I’d love to tell you what song they opened with, it was loud, shouty, screamy at points and the crowd got well into it. Frank Turner launched himself into the crowd early doors and I’m still just trying to fit in. I worked my way to peripheral of the mosh pit to see what the fuss was and, no surprises, it as absolute bedlam.
A few songs in and we all got a break to process what’s going on. “Good evening Manchester, what a pleasure, our home town effectively. We were in Glasgow last night (Rabbie Burns Night) so you’ve got a high standard to beat.”
In terms of songs, ‘Staff to Refund Counter’ was a highlight for me mainly because the lines were repetitive and I could pretend I knew it but it was definitely a song I’d listen to again. The only song I actually recognized (ashamedly) was the cover they did of ‘Madonna – Like a Prayer’. I’m not sure it worked, I’m still on the fence, but at the time, I brought into it a little.
Frank Turner was not pretending to be someone he isn’t. If anything, I think this is what he’d like to be remembered as; a middle aged rocker at heart. He wasn’t unrecognisable from his solo shows though. Playful with the crowd, cracking jokes with the band and the odd camp dance move thrown in. Without a guitar over his right shoulder he got some freedom on the stage and his top was swimming with sweat as soon as the hoodie came off.
The only sign they are nearing the end was Frank’s sweaty top being scraped off. He walked into the crowd for the last song and he is held aloft, the last song kicks in and he crumbles into a crowd surf. He thanks the crowd and tells them that he wasn’t sure if anyone gave a sh#t. Möngöl Hörde haven’t been around for three years but this has been their biggest tour and they’re working on new music, which good news for all you Möngöl heads.
For all you Frank Turner fans he returns to the academy in April for a ‘Business as Usual’ tour with the sleeping souls and a new album ‘Be More Kind’.