So, here is the 2nd post of my Frank Turner in London week, which chronologically should have been the first one, but bumping into Frank before the Royal Albert Hall gig (and managing to take a pretty decent photo together with him) was the thing I had to write about first. The whole long tale of a 60 seconds encounter can be found here, by the way.
The “Evening of conversation, Q&A and live solo performance” on occasion of the launch of his tour memoir “The Road Beneath My Feet” happened at Cecil Sharp House in Camden on Thursday. It’s also the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society and thus comes with a lot of musical history which made it a neat place to talk about folk/punk music. I was able to get a pretty good seat (2nd row, at the middle aisle) with perfect view of the two chairs on stage. I took an insane amout of photos and luckily was so close up I could easily do that sort of from my lap, so I didn’t have to put the camera up in front of my face all the time ;-)
Here’s a small selection of my photos (just click to enlarge, as usual). But this posts continues below with some more of my thoughts on that evening.
The first part of the evening started with an interview / conversation between Ian Winwood, a music journalist and Frank, followed by a Q&A session, in which I sadly didn’t manage to get a question in. But the questions that did get asked were good and prompted a few more entertaining stories, so that was totally fine by me.
I honestly can’t recall all the interesting and hilarious stories Frank told because by now I’ve finished reading the book and the stories from the evening and the book kind of blend into each other. Some he told in a shorter version on that night, others he didn’t, I think, but by now I can’t really seperate those stories from each other. Don’t need to either, I think. You should buy and read the book after all :-)
As it was a London show, a lot of Frank’s folks (management, booking, record company) and friends were there as well, which led to some entertaining interaction from the stage to the back of the room. Ian asked Frank about the Wembley gig, which is the end of the book and if he will play there again or at another similar venue on the tour for the new record? After some squirming on Frank’s part. – “I can’t say anything, my booking agent is here, she is listening!” – and some shouts across the room it became evident that there might be two nights at Alexandra Palace later this year. When? Frank started squirming again.
Ian: “People will have to know when to *not* book any vacation abroad!”
Frank: “Well I’ve heard that practically every holiday destination anywhere is the world is supposed to be shit in November.”
Another funny thing I remember from the start of the evening: Frank had just gotten a beautiful, amazing, white electric guitar as a gift (?) from a guitar company that day. He said the name (Gibson, maybe?) but I don’t really remember, as I don’t know anything about instruments. Anyway, he is sooooo in love with his guitar.
Frank: “I’m going to sleep with her tonight. We’re going to have babies. Beautiful babies” Ian: “Your lady is at the back of the room, I’m sure she’s happy to hear that.”
All in all the whole evening once again confirmed to me that Frank is a just such really funny, entertaining, intelligent, kind and lovely guy. *sigh*
After a break he returned to the stage on his own and picked up his (acoustic) guitar to play a few songs. Not without talking in between about the songs or why he chose them for tonight. Either here or in the conversation earlier there was a highly entertaining story about being kettled in at a protest ralley with a full bladder and an annoying ex-girlfriend and how he managed to get out of it. Too long to recount here, but hilarious. I knew he was a good story-teller in his songs, but it turns out he also is a very good one with just stories itself. It was just fun listening to him, maybe also because he doesn’t take himself to seriously.
He started this acoustic set – in true spirit of the folk tradition at Cecil Sharp House – with an acapalla version of the tradition folk song “Barbara Allen”, followed by some old songs and two new ones “Mittens” and “Get Better” (Yay!) And ended the set with a classic: Queen’s “Somebody to Love” which we all joined in singing along of course.
It was really an amazing experience to hear him sing those songs, just him and his acoustic guitar. Right in front of me. He sometimes plays some of the songs at gigs and often enough then also does the acoustic version, but this still felt different. Simpler, but also purer, if that makes any sense. The atmosphere was just different. I enjoyed it a lot and I’m so glad I had the chance to be there.
There also was a personal fangirling *g* moment, which I have already mentioned on Twitter. Frank played a song as a request for Ian, the journalist who had interviewed him in the first part, but who naturally had vacated the stage for the music part. Frank talked about this request and while saying something like “Ian, here, asked me to…” gestured toward the empty chair. Followed by something along the line “And that just made me look like Clint Eastwood now. “
At which I was literally laughing out loud, because I thought (and still think) it was a funny and clever reference. My sole laughter was obviously noticed by Frank (and the rest of the audience) which made me feel a bit awkward. I looked up and with an hopefully apologetic smile said “Sorry!” His reply: “Oh, please don’t apologize. At least *you* got it.”
For the whole song I was equally elated and also baffled that I was the only one who remembered that totally bizarre moment of the 2012 US Presidental Election. But maybe I was just the only one who’s lacking decorum at a serene acoustic guitar performance ;-)