On Friday I went to see my friend Frank Turner play his first headline arena show at Wembley and tattooed the date on him between the main set and the encore.
It is usually completely dark backstage but I got one light to work with (rubbish for tattooing as you cast a shadow with your hand), he was sweaty, it had to be quick and I also had to match the lettering to the old Wembley tattoo he had done when he supported Green Day. Needless to say, this tattoo was more about the experience and the moment than technical perfection.
I met Frank a few years ago and have tattooed him a few times, including in the video for “I still believe”, also a stressful and difficult tattoo! He asked me about tattooing the date on him at Wembley and then mentioned the idea of broadcasting it on the screens between sets. I didn’t think too much of it as it wasn’t confirmed and then as the date got closer and it seemed to be more definite I started to think I had maybe been mistaken, maybe we would do it before the show and it would just be broadcast between sets? That seemed to make more sense, but no. It was live, right at the back of the stage, seconds after the last song. I had put the stencil on much earlier in the hope that he didn’t sweat it off and it had luckily stayed on so I just had to pick up my machine and go.
You can see more pics of the gig, by Ben Morse, here.
Morrissey said “we hate it when our friends become successful” but in this case I don’t. Frank works harder than just about anyone I know and he doesn’t seem to have changed one bit as things have taken off for him. When I first saw him play to a tiny crowd of people I thought “why isn’t this guy playing to massive crowds?”, and now he is.
I am no fan of tattooists who make a name for themselves doing average tattoos on famous people and name dropping is vulgar and unpleasent. I hope this doesn’t come across like that. It was an interesting experience to tattoo live at Wembley though and I wanted to share it.