It was a night to remember for grassroots venue Clapham Grand (cap. 1250) on Monday, 19 July, as it became one of the first in the country to host a full-capacity crowd for its Grand Aid 3 gig, in association with Music Venue Trust (MVT) and The National Lottery’s Revive Live Tour.

The gig on UK’s Freedom Day featured a set by folk-punk singer-songwriter Frank Turner and his band the Sleeping Souls, along with support acts Beans on Toast, Gerry Del-Guercio and Ciara Haidar.

Turner was welcomed to the stage by BBC Radio 6 DJ Steve Lamacq, who showed support to local venues, promoters and MVT CEO and crowd surfer on the night, Mark Davyd.

Lamacq said, “Over the past 15 months the MVT, their partners around the county, and people all over the UK have tried to keep the doors open, keep the wolf from the door and make sure that we can still see live music when all this is over.

“They’ve been working 16–18-hour days, six or seven days a week, trying to lobby the government behind the scenes and ask societies and trusts to raise awareness of the importance of live rock music and to get the cash to keep these venues alive.”

After rapturous applause from his loyal following, many of whom were wearing his merchandise t-shirts, Turner said, “My last full capacity show was 491 days ago in Southend and I have been waiting since then.

“There’s been socially distanced shows and that’s all good and everybody’s tried really hard but this is the real s*** ladies and gentlemen. I did some livestreamed shows over lockdown but I’ve missed you people.

“On paper virtual shows should be better – you can press pause, get your own beer and you might even have better sound. But it’s not even remotely the same thing.

“You know why?” he continued, “because there’s no sense of community. It’s not just about getting sweaty with your friends, it’s about getting sweaty with people you don’t know and making new friends.”

Turner, who performed both his new material and cult classics, slammed those in charge of the country, who he said “seem to blame everything that goes wrong on live music culture and youth culture.”

After bringing Clapham Grand manager, producer and programmer Ally Wolf on stage, an emotional Turner, who said he cried twice before the show, expressed his delight at being able to perform his first proper gig back at his beloved Grand – a place where he played the first government-endorsed pilot live concert last year. He told the crowd the 121-year-old refurbished Victorian venue has hosted Charlie Chaplin and has “already lived through one pandemic”.

After the event Turner tweeted, “I’m still working out exactly what I think and feel about last night’s show. But I can say this – it was utterly magic, and pure, in the moment; and fleeting moments are what live music [is] about.”