Friday, October 21, 2011

something as simple as rock n roll, saving us all

Frank Turner
- Republik, Oct 20/11

Frank Turner is one of the people.

Not content to be "one of five English guys with matching white shirts and bad teeth" entertaining the masses from the safety of the stage, he is a musician who tears down barriers and turns a concert into a bar room singalong. When Frank Turner insists that everyone join in (the hipsters up front, god love you, the curious who had nothing better to do tonight, the plus one's, the security guys, the bartender), he means everyone.

And when he promises that setting aside our cool to clap and sing will make magic, will produce something transcendent, he is right. A man after my own heart.

Frank Turner was high on my list of must-sees at the Calgary Folk Festival a couple of years ago, where he simultaneously thrilled and charmed the crowd with his all-too-brief appearance. Headlining at Republik meant that the faithful could see the English folk troubadour in his natural element, a resurrected punk bar that celebrates dancing with abandon and spilling drinks. Although judging from the barfing I heard in the bathroom during the first opener, perhaps drinks were not being spilled quite fast enough.

We lost the Spousal Unit early in the evening, due to ill health, leaving my concert date and I free to get hit upon by one of the many Frank Turner look-alikes in attendance. But it was all done with jovial camaraderie and mirrored the sentiment of the entire evening.

I wasn't terribly keen on the first opener, a bearded fellow with a guitar who goes by the name Into It. Over It. A bit too Barenaked Ladies for me. With more swearing.

The Andrew Jackson Jihad, on the other hand, who were the second openers, were far more fun. Something about them reminded me slightly of The Burning Hell, perhaps the big standup bass, but more likely the slightly subversive nature of their songs.

By the time Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls took the stage, the crowd was well lubricated and ready for a rollicking singalong. I have to say, Frank Turner doing a solo performance is amazing, but when you take that passion and energy and back it with a solid band like the Sleeping Souls, something sublime happens.

Frank Turner is rapidly establishing himself as the new Billy Bragg, an inspired and impassioned performer who is as thrilling to hear talk as he is to hear sing.
Thursday night's show was an intoxicating mix of folk sentiment, punk sensibility, self-effacing humour, and cocky self-awareness. To end the main set with a Freddie Mercury classic was inspired. To save the signature song - the criminally catchy Photosynthesis - as the extended all-voices belting out, all-hearts soaring encore finale, was perfect.

Frank Turner knows how to work a crowd and make it feel like it was all our idea.


Vol-E said...

Jumping in quick with a belated "Happy Birthday" message. Wishing you good travels and bright music!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Wow, what an incredible memory you have, Vol-E! Thanks, the trip was grand and the music keeps getting brighter.

bloody awful poetry said...

I must really get into more Frank Turner! I remember loving that one track you included in the Calgary festival sampler CD; I think it was called "Photosynthesis". Good jam, that.

Jon Soroka said...

Hahah, Oh man! You went to this show with my sister the night before I went to it!

I actually didn't know he was playing Regina until my buddy asked me If I wanted to check it with him, the day of. Having no other plans I was more than in.

Knowing very little of the show (As in, I hadn't heard of Frank Turner before last week, nor did I know who the openers of the show were), I just showed up with some cash in my pocket, and ears ready for some tunes. Though, we showed up late, so I don't have an opinion on Into It. Over It. (The few songs I did see were short and not overly spectacular.)

But when Andrew Jackson Jihad came on, a rush of excitement came over me. I had been listening to a few of their tunes for a couple of weeks, and I was digging them; and like I said, I had no idea who the openers were. Needless to say, it was a damn fine surprise.

When Frank Turner came on, I remembered Jamie tweeting something about a "Frank" the night prior. Seeing that, I actually kind of laughed.

The show was stellar here, as I assume it was in Calgary.

Also, I presume you'll be checkin' Elliott Brood & Chad Vangaalen out when they're in Calgary? As I sure as hell am, here. (And if you do, I'll be looking forward to the blogs :P)

John Mutford said...

Now that sounds like a concert I'd enjoy. Which Freddy Mercury song? And are you sure Into It. Over It. wasn't just Steven Page?

And a missed birthday? Well, happy belated!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That is such a great song, BAP, and indicative of the true lure of a Frank Turner live show. Not surprisingly, it was his encore finale. Big singalong. BIG.

Hey, Jon! Nice to meet you! Jamie mentioned that we have similar music tastes and that you are as big a music nerd as I am. (That's a compliment.)
How does Frank Turner manage to put on such an exuberant show, night after night? No need for a gym membership when you are a rock star.
I'm definitely going to see Elliott Brood! Never miss a chance to go to their shows! But I'm not sure I can make Chad VG this time around.
Are you planning to see Cuff the Duke as well? We'll have to exchange concert notes.

I'm positive you would have enjoyed this show too, John. Very lively.
They played Somebody to Love and there was a lot of Queen vibe in the air.
Thanks, it was a good birthday, despite it being the 190th one...

Allison said...

I must admit I've never listened to him. I'll have to change this. Sounds like it was a great show. And as always, stellar review!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

We have GOT to do something about that, Al. You are in danger of losing your indie kid card.