The sun is beating, flower crowns are everywhere, glitter covers an abundance of girls faces, there’s beer, there’s chatter and there’s excitement. It can only mean one thing in this Reading field: Reading Festival 2016 is kicking off, and today, was done so with a bang!
The folk rock singer-songwriter Frank Turner and his impressive backing band The Sleeping Souls took to the Reading Main Stage for the 12o’clock slot like the absolute professionals they are and delivered a set to set the scene. Energetic and nostalgic, Turner announced his excitement to be performing his 1,955th show and seemed honoured to be performing for his 10th consecutive year at Reading Festival, setting the record. Capturing the crowd, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls took a somewhat lacklustre audience, no doubt exhausted by the midday heat, and turned it round in record time. Turner seems a very charismatic man, getting everyone jumping and dancing, and knowing when to slow it down, he had complete control over this festival audience.
Taking a more serious turn Turner took a moment to discuss his time in America, where he has been touring for what he described to be, “one thousand years”, and while he claims he is not a man who discusses politics he made a pretty impressive political statement in my opinion. Asking the crowd to form a division, Turner prepared to imitate perhaps the most dangerous ritual one might experience in a mosh pit, The Wall of Death, but with his own little twist. Asking this festival audience to go against the somewhat hateful message of politics in today’s society; one might consider islamophobia, xenophobia and racism as just a few of the common factors in both British and American politics today, the performer requested a more peaceful society here at Reading Festival, emulating a mini community in which festival goers look out for one another and make sure everyone has a good time regardless of differences. How does this tie in to a Wall of Death experience you ask? Well imagine this, you’ve got a field full of people, a divide separating two sides, and rather than running blindly with hopes of surviving, these fans ran to the other side with hopes of finding a stranger to hug! A strange ritual this may be, but Turner certainly got the crowd on side and the site was filled with hugging strangers, jumping and dancing to the energetic sound of Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls.
Turner performed his heart out, bringing the energy expected of festival life to Reading Main Stage and by the end of his set there was not one person standing still. Despite his lyric “there’s no such thing as rock stars, there’s just people who play music”, Turner demanded the attention of his audience like a true star and I for one am excited for Monday’s release of UK tour dates!