Allyson Laredo ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff-Writer
Copy Edited by: Jessica Morris
In the middle of a raucous and relentlessly energetic set, Frank Turner gave his band, The Sleeping Souls, a break, and played a few of his older acoustic songs solo. During this quiet moment, he told the audience in his rough England-via-Essex accent that, “as a boy, [he] dreamed of playing electric guitar in a band.” He has been living this dream for years, but here in the middle of show number 1,734, you could still see that little boy in his smile as he seemed to realize just how incredible this is. Yes, Frank Turner is living his dream. And he is living it damn well.
At The House of Blues, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls rocketed through a 23 song set, not counting the additional four song encore. The crowd, already fired up after a rallying opening performance from fellow English folk-rock band, Skinny Lister, that included crowd surfing by bassist Michael Camino while playing his double bass, reached a pitch of near hysteria as The Sleeping Souls launched into “Get Better”, the first single off their sixth and latest album Positive Songs for Negative People. It’s a bold title certainly, but one that Frank carries well. In a way, it encompasses his whole career. Moving from punk rock to folk rock, from teen angst to adult heartbreak, occasionally bitter outrage, and yes, positivity.
There was barely time to breathe as Frank and The Sleeping Souls moved from one song to the next, but still, Frank and the band managed witty banter covering everything from the number of strings on Ben Lloyd’s electric mandolin to bassist Tarrant Anderson’s lack of a microphone. The stamina on stage was transferred to the crowd who never stopped moving or singing along for a second. There is no standing still at a Frank Turner show, and no fighting either. Though there is jumping, dancing, and plenty of crowd surfing, the moment a fight breaks out, Frank stops in the middle of a song to inform the crowd that “the kinda people that fight are the kinda people that aren’t welcome at [his] fucking show” before moving right along.
The show included older songs, new songs, and songs from what Frank has classified as the “mid-period”. Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls took the crowd on an emotional rollercoaster from the heart wrenching “Long Live the Queen”, to the nostalgia of “Polaroid Picture”, and the ever-relatable self loathing of “Plain Sailing Weather” on which Frank snapped a guitar string. Throughout, there was a sense of an uplifting spirit that transcended any of the anger or frustration in the songs, bringing the crowd together to form a joyous and celebratory mob. There is something truly special about screaming “God damn it’s great to be alive” along with 1800 other people. From some artists, this, along with some of Frank’s other lyrics—“if we all pull together/we can lift up the weight of the world from your shoulders” comes to mind— could easily come off as cheesy or contrived, but, as with everything Frank does, they were sung with such earnest sincerity and such passion that you could believe every word.
Before the inevitable encore, the show ‘ended’ with “I Still Believe”, and the song was sung honestly and determinedly from every mouth in the place, “now who’d have thought, that after all/Something as simple as rock ‘n’ roll could save us all”. And trust me, in this moment we were all saved. After skipping off stage for about a minute tops, Frank returned to deliver a haunting rendition of “The Angel Islington” before launching into the rest of the encore with The Sleeping Souls, ending a long (but always too short) show with “Four Simple Words”. The song is a classic, a crowd favorite and a rallying cry and left the crowd begging for a “few [more] precious hours in a space of our own”.