Folk Musician Frank Turner supports Exeter Cavern
Online Lifestyle Editor Elinor Jones reviews one of Frank Turner’s Facebook live gigs and discusses the importance of musicians supporting small venues during the pandemic.
As lockdown is starting to ease in England, the ‘new normal’ for many seems like a time gone by. We have had one too many Zoom chats, learnt all the quiz questions under the sun and have exhausted our options on Netflix. Whilst we may be growing tired of life under lockdown, many musicians can have no such apathy, week-in-week-out performing live on Facebook and YouTube, in the hope that more streams and sales will keep them afloat for next year’s festival season. For many independent venues, closure is set to be a more permanent feature in their future, despite being firm favourites with up-and-coming artists and music fans alike.
The Exeter Cavern, known fondly to students for its club nights, indie music and tequila deals, is a venue that has faced an unprecedented amount of challenges in recent years, including a fire that almost closed it in 2016 and the threat of COVID-19 leaving it empty for most of 2020. Folk musician Frank Turner has played at the Cavern on several occasions, most recently this January. Turner has used his weekly ‘Independent Venues Love’ home gigs to keep the struggling live music scene going in a time where social distancing prevents us from packing into see our favourite bands. This Thursday’s Facebook live was dedicated to raising funds to prevent Cavern, otherwise on the brink of collapse, from closing after restrictions lift. Armed with a legion of loyal supporters, Turner asked viewers to donate what they could.
Having exhausted his own material throughout his lockdown shows, Turner played a covers set of songs by friends’ he has met and been helped by through his musical career. This included Billy Bragg and the Levellers, whose festival at Escot Park near Exeter has been cancelled due to coronavirus. Reminiscing about past Cavern performances, he admitted to playing to an empty crowd at a metal night in the early noughties, clearing the dancefloor with his band The Million Dead.
Frank Turner has been a favourite in Exeter for many years, not least due to his unwavering support for the venues that are going to be hardest hit by the pandemic.
Taking a more gentle approach in his fundraising gig, Frank Turner played to a crowd in their living rooms, with fans from around the world donating to save Exeter’s beloved venue. Covering songs by the likes of Beans on Toast, Emily Barker and Grace Petrie, he created a celebratory atmosphere. He proved the spirit of the music industry has not been defeated by the virus, despite many of these artists performing on the underground music scene that is struggling for funds. Having been due to perform at the Lemon Grove at the end of March, Frank Turner has been a favourite in Exeter for many years, not least due to his unwavering support for the venues that are going to be hardest hit by the pandemic. Whilst our enthusiasm for online events may be dwindling, this live gig showed that community togetherness is still there, raising almost £20,000 in aid of the Cavern, despite us being confined to our own homes and not at the front of the crowd for a little while longer.