Frank Turner Show #1815, Pier2, Bremen – 16 January 2016

In short: BEST SHOW EVER. For my “ever” anyway, which so far consists of 14 shows: 12 with the full band and  2 solo interview + few songs events. The show at Pier2 in Bremen last night beat everything I’ve seen from or experienced with Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls so far. It was just sooooo good. And I had so much fun. Probably because the guys on stage seemed to have so much fun themselves. Even more fun than they already usually have. Frank really looked like he had a blast and of course that infects the people in front of the stage.

What follows will be a long and detailed and personal concert recap. Warning: Lots of fangirling ahead! (As if you hadn’t noticed from the first paragraph!) If you’re not into that kind of stuff, take a look at the photos and move on ;-)

I’m not sure I will ever get such a good spot in the middle of the front row again on this tour. It’s not that I think I won’t be able to, because I’m willing to be there early enough. But this was my first time directly in front of Frank and thus in the centre of all the partying and pushing that’s going on in rows 2-5 in front of the stage. And I’m not sure I want to do that again soon. Holy crap, are my arms bruised from being pushed against the barrier over and over again. I’m not complaining, because that’s the “price” of a front row centre spot and I could have easily switched places.

In front of Tarrant is an equally nice place to hang out though and there is less pushing forward on that side. At previous gigs there were more options for Frank to get a bit closer to the crowd on both sides of the stage. Either because the barrier was closer to the stage or because there were podiums on both sides as well as in the middle. Last night there was only one make shift podium in the centre, so that’s where I was headed.
And all in all it definitely was worth it. Yes, even my bruised shoulder where Frank kicked / stepped on me, when he went crowd surfing during the finale. Like I said, I’m not complaining. Rather more noting my reaction to all of this in a kind of detached and slightly amused way. I’ve never been one of those fans or concert visitors who felt the need to be in the thick of things and to be as close as possible to the singer on stage. Not for the price of bumps and bruises. Frank Turner really is ruining me in my old age ;-)

Will Varley and Skinny Lister did a great job getting the crowd into the right mood. Maybe after a few more gigs I will have figured out at which songs Michael goes wild with his double bass and be ready to film it. Will played “We Don’t Believe You” which made me happy, as it is one of my favourite of his songs . I heard it for the first time when I also saw Will for the first time when he opened for Frank at the Royal Albert Hall last year. It’s such a great song to sing along to at the top of my lungs and like so many of Will’s songs it has amazing lyrics.

Now on the main act: Frank and the Sleeping Souls entered the stage at 10 pm and started with “The Next Storm”, which is a great, energetic song to get the crowd singing and dancing right away. This song led into “The Road”, which is equally fast paced and one of my favourite older songs and I hope he will never ever lose this from his set. Next up was “Losing Days”, which continued the dance and sing along mood.

And then my evening already turned really, really amazing. This past week I mentioned (either in an email to Frank himself), on Twitter or in this latest blog post  here a few songs I would love to see him play live on one of my remaining shows of this tour. Or play live again any time. These songs were:

Sea Legs, Sailor’s Boots, Tattoos, One Foot Before The Other, Substitute, Once We Were Anarchists, Love, Ire & Song,  Eulogy,  Poetry of the Deed, Nashville Tennessee.

Ten songs all in all and I was hoping that he might  play one of them. Maybe two if I’m really, really lucky.

Song #4 last night was…. “Eulogy” (in German). Yay! Haven’t heard that one in a while and that – combined with my great spot in front of the stage – would have already made my night.

It led into “If Ever I Stray”, followed by “Try This At Home”, which is a song order I’ve loved ever since the first time I’ve watched the DVD of the Wembley show, which opens with exactly these three songs.

I might have started to hyperventilate after that, if I hadn’t needed all my breath to sing and scream because they then played “One Foot Before The Other”. Oh My God! 2 out of 10 from my wishlist and the evening had barely started. It was sooooo cool!

I don’t remember having seen this song live yet or having watched a live clip of it, so I wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen. Because the next OMG moment came seconds later during the “I’m not convinced of the existence….” part, when Frank pushed his guitar onto his back, grabbed the mic from the stand and stepped down from the stage. The security guy helped him climb up onto the barrier right in front of me, where he continued to sing these lines. The security guys held Frank steady from behind and the fans next to me and I held his feet and legs steady from the front. All the while two thoughts were running through my mind: “Please, don’t mess it up and make Frank fall” and “Please Frank, don’t make a wrong move and kick my teeth in” LOL. Seriously, sooooooo surreal! For me anyway.

No time to catch my breath or fully realize what had just happened, because when this song ended Frank got his electric guitar, talked a bit about how much fun he has playing it and then started playing the very recognizable intro of “Enter Sandman”. ;-) Then they quickly started with  “Josephine” which is my 2nd favourite song from the PS4NP album. And the crowd went wild during it. They really were amazing. According to Frank it was the biggest crowd (about 2.000 people) they have played to in Germany yet. Only the Cologne show will be bigger. Much bigger, I think.

Next up was “Polaroid Picture” which is a song that requires jumping during the chorus, so still no time to catch my breath. Frank had dedicated that song to David Bowie in Münster on Monday, which was a lovely tribute, I think. And he did the same last night and mentioned that he might continue to that for a while longer. By the way, there was lot of Bowie music played over the speaker during the breaks between the opening bands and Frank. Nice!

After that the setlist started to blow my mind, because this was followed by “Poetry of the Deed”. One of the songs I just yesterday wrote a blog post about. The song whose lyrics inspired the title of this blog. A song I’ve never heard live before and thus never before was able to scream some of my favourite lyrics from the top of my lungs. Thanks for that Frank, it really was incredible!

If you’re counting, yes, 3 out of 10 !

“Peggy Sang The Blues” picked up the sing-a-long part and even though I might skip the song on shuffle more often than not, it’s always fun to hear and sing it live. Followed by another favourite of mine from the new album “The Opening Act of Spring”. Always so much fun to sing “Ooooooooh, Ooooooh, Ooooh, Ooooh, Ooooh” to Matt’s happy mandolin sound.

After that it was time for Frank’s acoustic solo set and right at the start he then definitely blew my freaking mind, because he played: “Tattoos”. One of the three songs I mailed him about.

4 out of 10!!!! I’m still grinning like a Cheshire Cat just thinking about it.

What’s my deal with this song? It might be a bit weird that I like it so very much, even though I don’t have a tattoo myself. I’ve never seriously considered getting one either, because I’ve always been rather deterred by the permanency of a tattoo. In other words: maybe not brave and bold enough. It’s a long and complicated story. There also never was something that meant so much to me that I felt the need to permanentely have it on my skin. And I wouldn’t have gotten one just because it looked nice or cool or whatever.

That started to change a bit when I’ve become a fan of Frank’s music a few years ago. And no, not because he is tattooed all over ;-). But because so many of of his beautiful poetic words mean so much to me and I could have seen myself having some of those inked. To always have them with me. But when I started to contemplate it even a little bit and did some research, I found out that getting a tattoo is not really advised for people who are treated with immunosuppressive medication, like I am (at the moment at least for the Multiple Sclerosis). I’ve got enough health issues with my MS as it is, so it’s not a risk I want to take (for now), not even for Frank’s lyrics.

But I still really love the song. Maybe because I feel it says a lot about Frank himself? I don’t know. Maybe because a part of me finds the “I don’t give a fuck” attitude so very admirable? I often wish I had more of that regarding all different aspects of my life. I think I’m getting better with it by now and I’m working on it anyway. And also, I think it’s quite a catchy tune. Check it out on Youtube.

After the song Frank asked the audience if anyone knew any good tattoo artists in Hamburg as he will spend a day there when they play the two gigs at the end of the month. It’s going to be interesting to see if he shows up with a new tattoo on the second evening :-)

Frank continued with two more songs from the “Sleep Is For The Week” album which had come out the day before (15th January) nine years ago. Wow! He played “A Kingdom For A Horse”, which he said, he hasnt’t played in a loooong time. And then of course he also played the classic “Ballad of Me & My Friends”. The Sleeping Souls came back on stage after that and they continued as full band to rock the venue again with the classics “Reasons Not To Be An Idiot” and “Glory Hallelujah”.

Followed by one of my favourite songs from the new album, on CD and live: “Mittens”. I know quite a few fans who don’t care for that song at all, but I LOVE it and I really enjoy it at every show! I’m glad it seems to be a live fixture from the new album. Another live fixture probably forever is “Long Live The Queen”, which came next.

What happened after that might have been one of my favourite moments at any concert in the past few years. One of the stage techs came on stage, dressed in a crocodile costume. It was his birthday and I have no idea why he was wearing this costume (or forced to wear it *g*), but Frank led a “Happy Birthday” chorus for him. Meanwhile one of the Skinny Lister guys (Michael?) came on stage with a birthday cake. Frank then started to talk about all the crew who do such a great job every night and that they deserve a big thank you for their work. And as token of gratitude the guys at the sound desk at the back of the floor should get a piece of cake. Delivered by the guy in the crocodile costume surfing the crowd to the sound desk and back. With a piece of cake on a paper plate in his hand! Yes, it sounds as nuts as it probably was. But also freaking hilarious.

They played “Out of Breath” for that and from the front row I couldn’t really see much of the surfing crocodile, so I kept my eyes on Frank on the stage, while I was singing and dancing along. Frank himself was watching the crocodile surfing though while he sang, and a few times he was more laughing than singing. It was so much fun to watch. And I bet we all were more laughing than singing when Frank sang “because you’re tired of wondering how much cake you’ve got left…” LOL

The finale of the main set started with “Photosynthesis”, during which I’m always glad when I’m at the barrier to hold on to and to use as leverage to get up from the floor again ;-) After that came “Plain Sailing Weather”, “Get Better” and “Recovery” and all of us were rocking out hard again before Frank and the Souls left the stage.

After a well needed short rest (for me at least) Frank came back with just his acoustic guitar and played “St. Christopher Is Coming Home”, which was a lovely surprise. I don’t remember having heared that live yet and it’s such a nice song. The rest of the encore was the well established smashing routine of “The Way I Tend To Be” followed by “I Still Believe”, which is the song that started it all for me. Quote from my first blog post about Frank and this song in the summer of 2013.

I admit even if I wouldn’t like a lot of his other songs I would have willingly paid the 25 EUR for the concert ticket just to sing “I Still Believe” from the top of my lungs with the crowd.

I still always sing my heart out during this song. “Four Simple Words” traditionally ended the concert and this time of course I knew what to expect from Frank and was ready to help hoist him over and up for his crowd surfing part. I somehow came away with a bruised shoulder from that, but honestly, I don’t fucking care ;-) (Yes, I have to adapt to Frank’s lingo for this tonight).

When I had planned my tour of Frank’s Germany tour, of course I took into consideration that I would love to wait for him after one or more gigs to say Hi and all that. I couldn’t hang around after the Münster show, because I needed to work the next day. Bremen on a Saturday worked perfectly for that and thus I knew I wanted to try to catch Frank afterwards. I also wanted to have something signed for my gig buddy, who couldn’t make it to this show with me. But even without this errand I definitely would have wanted to wait for Frank after THIS show. After this set! I just had to thank him for playing – probably mostly accidently, but who cares – four of the ten songs I wanted to see him play on this tour. In just one night! Like I said at the start of this long post: Best show ever!

The show ended around midnight and the temperatures were below freezing by then and it had started snowing a bit again. I guess, because of that the majority even of the more dedicated fans did not hang around afterwards. It also might have been the more sensible and grown-up decision, healthwise and all. But I didn’t care last night, I just had to thank Frank for that amazing evening. And what can I say: waiting around for over an hour with a handful of really nice other fans was totally worth it.

I got a great photo with Will Varley first, because I really like him and he is such a nice guy! After Frank had put his stuff on the bus, he directly came over to us and I got him to sign something for my gig buddy and most importantly I had the chance to thank him for this incredible evening and to quickly chat about the set. What can I say: he is just such a lovely, lovely, lovely guy! *sigh* And then I hugged him. Without really asking if that was ok. Ups!  Talk about bold. Or maybe rather brash… ;-)? But I think he was ok with being hugged. And he gives such good hugs!

I had the good sense to book a room in walking distance from the venue, but I still didn’t get much sleep last night as I had to get back from Bremen this morning. My body is feeling incredibly exhausted right now, but that’s ok, because after this night my heart and soul and mind still feel pretty invigorated. It feels like this really was quite the boost I needed for my psyche. At least I’m feeling really, really good right now. And right now I’m pretty confident that I can touch into these emotions during more stressful or anxious times when I need something to cheer me up.

I guess, making sure I have it all memorized was one of the reason I spent the Sunday afternoon and evening writing all this down in detail. Instead of just napping and catching up on my lack of sleep. But … sleep is for the week anyway, right?

4 out of 10! I still can’t quite wrap my mind around that!

THANK YOU Frank! You’re the best!

Only 10 more days till Hamburg & Cologne. 3 gigs in 3 days. That’s going to be interesting ;-)

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