Frank Turner: Not just an artist. An entertainer!

Give the crowd everything they’re asking for and more.
Always make them laugh,
Try to make them cry,
Always take the stage like it’s the last night of your life.
(Balthazar, Impressario ~ Frank Turner, 2011)

[The title is another quote form the song, I just couldn’t make up my mind which one to use as intro *g*]

Yesterday I warned you, that there might be a (short) Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls concert review today, right? Right! Gig #1603 of was a good one. They played at the free music festival in the city of Cologne during the gamescom fair trade, so it might not have been the usual Frank Turner concert crowd. Or it probably was in front of the stage, but as I got there less than 30 minutes before they came on stage, I wasn’t at the front. Obviously!

I stayed at the back, because I don’t need to be in the front rows (every time *g*), I just need a space to dance and jump and such. But last night at the back I was surrounded with a lot of folks who didn’t really know Frank’s music well or not at all yet and who were just hanging out at this festival, meeting friends, drinking beer and such. And I felt really weird at first. I guess I’m too self-conscious and too socially awkward to be able to just get into complete crazy fan-mode and have a great time singing and dancing regardless of what the other people around me think of me. *sigh*
Then there also were the folks chatting to each other or constantly checking their phones, which always annoys me a bit when there is a great show going on on stage! But it sort of sorted itself out after a while, because suddenly I had people standing next to me and behind me who knew the lyrics to every song as well as I did and who were singing along just as loudly, so I felt much more comfortable to sing and dance along.

Frank had changed the set list again from the last few shows I’ve been to, which I appreciate a lot, because it makes it all more interesting. Of course he played the “classics” but also one new song, a very fast punk song about “making every day count because you’ll be dead sooner than you know it”. Or something like that. I should go check Youtube for that again ;-) It’s just been a really cool fast song. Period. So far I’ve heard four new (unreleased) songs either via YouTube or during a concert and I’m getting so excited for the new album, because all four songs are pretty awesome!

But the main topic for this post (or at least that was the idea, hence the title and intro quote) is, how once again I was impressed how Frank manages to really win over a crowd, especially one that hasn’t necessarily been anxious to see him on stage. Like the people who were standing around me, there in the back of the crowd. A lot of them were cautiously observant, I would say. They didn’t come to see him play, he just happened to be the last act of the evening and they still wanted to hear some music or drink some beer outside with their friends.

But after a few songs they seemed to mostly enjoy the music. And of course the pure energy and enthusiasm from the guys on stage always lights a spark even in the back of the crowd. Sing-a-longs (Wessex Boy) always work well and and there also was the challenge to jump and clap at the same time during. “You Germans have word for that, because you have a word for everything. You call it the ‘Hampelmann’ “. After that introduction most the crowd willingly did the “Hampelmann” during the next song.

Frank talking in his broken German made the crowd laugh and the German version of “Eulogy” won most of them over for sure. I’ve seen it on stage several times by now and every time there are still people who see it for the first time and who are thrilled to see him make the effort to sing a song in German. It’s such a simple thing to break the ice and I love it every freaking time, because it’s so much fun to see the new people react to it. I’m wondering if that trick of winning over a crowd will ever get old :-)

But to witness that effect on some of the folks around me, made me once again, appreciate Frank’s intention to put on a great show for everyone down there. For making them all enjoy the evening. To entertain them. Not just by running through his set list, but by engaging with them. Make them part of the show but to also appreciate them as an essential part of it all. I think he had dropped the “…and on backing vocals, the wonderful people of [concert town]” for the last few shows I’ve seen, so I was really happy to hear it again last night. Because a gig where the crowd isn’t enjoying themselves and singing and dancing along is kind of a pathetic endeavour, right?

I’ve heard or read Frank talk a few times in interviews that he doesn’t see himself “just” as a singer/songwriter/musician, but as an entertainer. Or to quote himself from one of my favourite long interview-like events, his talk at the Cambridge Union earlier this year:

“My social role is to be an entertainer. And that’s what I’m happy being in life”

He proved that very well last night. Kudos once again!

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