Mongol Horde, Live in London

Five things we learned watching Frank Turner's hardcore band on their first full UK tour

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Oxygen Thief proves he is a worthy addition to the Xtra Mile roster.

Acoustic man gone electric three piece Oxygen Thief is a good fit for this bill, as well as Xtra Mile Records, who have just put out his new record. With it also being the home of tonight’s headliners and Frank Turner’s solo material, they are perhaps an obvious choice for support but a great one nonetheless, dealing in the sort of no nonsense, earnest rock, in a similar vein to the likes of The Xcerts and Reuben, that the label build its name on. Barry Dolan certainly seems to be enjoying spreading his noisy wings, regularly head banging and adopting legs stretched riff lord stances.

Palehorse can confuse, scare, amuse and thrill a crowd all at the same time.

With two bassists, two vocalists and Mongol Horde stickman Ben Dawson pulling double duty on drums, Palehorse get off to an irreverent start which sets the tone for their entire set. A constant drone of feedback pierced by a single cymbal and bursts of yelping, lasts for far too long and seems frankly ridiculous. Their set is a mixed bag, at their best they are truly spectacular, disgustingly nasty heavy music that is the perfect antidote to copy and paste metalcore. At times their music gets so dark and unsettling it feels like being in a nightmare. Yet on the other hand the prolonged feedback, the bassists having their backs turned to the crowd and the vocalist’s bizarre stage presence make them feel a bit too chin-strokingly clever for their own good, to the point where they come across as Nathan Barley’s metal band of choice. Regardless, for both good and bad reasons it keeps the whole crowd captivated and has punters trying to scoop their brains off the floor after they’ve trickled out of their ears.

Frank Turner is still a nice guy even in this heavier venture.

While many were intrigued and excited for Frank Turner’s return to his punk roots it soon becomes apparent that this isn’t just a case of Turner stepping back into his Million Dead shoes. A lot of time has passed over the years, and the days of him cramming into a van and sleeping on floors are long gone, as he has made a huge success of himself with his solo career. He’s clearly a happy guy and as he makes jokes about ‘rocking out so hard his shoelace has come undone’ and dancing around the stage he makes no bones about showing it. In all honesty why shouldn’t he? It’s great to see someone be outright and honest instead of posturing and doing what is expected of the punk frontman. It’s not to say there’s no rage left within him as he looks ferocious ripping off his t-shirt Hulk Hogan style during Stillborn Unicorn.

Mongol Horde are a chance for Turner to let his hair down away from the day job.

Perhaps to be expected given they only have one album to their name but the set is full of covers. While their take on Rage Against The Machine’s Bulls On Parade is pretty ropey, they fare better with Faith No More’s Epic and Foo Fighters Weenie Beenie, in the words of X Factor judge Louis Walsh, ‘making them their own’. As Turner stage dives during their take on Sepultura’s Refuse/Resist, it becomes apparent that this is the chance for the singer/song writer to imitate those rock stars he idolised growing up, tick a few things off the bucket list and have the sort of fun he can’t have with an acoustic guitar strapped around his neck.

It may be a side project but they’re still better than a lot of bands.

It’s obvious and expected that Frank Turner’s solo material is his primary concern, and in many ways this band is a holiday break away from that. However this doesn’t detract from the band in their own right. Their original material goes down far better than the covers. Opener Winky Face: The Mark Of A Moron is met by the first of many huge pits, people propel themselves from the stage to Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen and there is a huge shout along for Staff To Refund Counter’s “I want my money back” refrain. A thunderous Hey Judas with Turner once again in the crowd caps off what is a showcase of some of the best punk songs written this year.