“But isn’t it the same show every night?” is a question most people ask me in an often incredulous tone, when they hear I’m going to more than one Frank Turner show in a year. Or even more than one show of a tour. Multiple nights in a row even. They don’t get it. I always reply – sometimes fervently, I might add – with: “No, it isn’t! He’s playing a few different songs each night.” Depending on my mood and on which terms I am with the person who’s asking, I either shrug off any doubting follow up questions or go into full fangirl mode and start gushing about Frank’s craft of putting together varied setlists for each night. Excellent setlists in the sense that the night is fun and entertaining and even the more casual of fans get into singing / dancing / partying mood quickly. Frank mentioned several times how much time and thought he spends on putting together the “perfect” setlist. And I love him for that, because I honestly don’t know if I would go to as many gigs and would have as much fun as I usually have at a Frank gig, if he played the very same set every night of a tour. The suspense and surprise about which songs he’ll switch around and play during his solo acoustic parts is one of the many factors which make his shows fun. To me anyway. There is always the chance of hearing one of the rarer songs. And if it’s a rare song you love it’s even better.
Prior to his last regular tour in Germany at the start of 2016, I wrote about his setlists (part 1 | part 2) and which songs I would like to hear at any of my five shows. I came up with ten songs then and I was indeed lucky to hear six of them. Only one of those six was played, because I had sent him a song request for it. I got lucky in that regard on that tour. So I thought it’d be fun – for me anyway – to do something similar for the upcoming Europe tour of which I’ll see seven shows. If only to add a bit of suspense to the whole tour for me and to have something more to write about later.
One self-imposed restriction: if I’ve heard the song at least once this year already, it can’t get on the following list. [Spoiler Alert: there is one exemption]. Obviously the songs below all are some of my favourites. Frank has written about 30 more songs I’ve never heard him play live yet and some of those I honestly don’t need to hear being played live. Ever. ;-)
#01: Brave Face (Be More Kind, 2018)
This is one of my favourite songs from the new album. In the week between album release and Lost Evenings I spent hours learning to sing along to the song. I had the lyrics down quickly and I could have recited them to you, but learning to actually sing them without getting all tangled up and stutter-y was a painstaking process. And then he didn’t even play the song on either of the four nights! I was so ready to sing this! With small hand gestures and all. (Don’t ask!) [Album version]
#02 The Lifeboat (Be More Kind, 2018)
The same thing goes for this 2nd new song they didn’t play at Lost Evenings. It’s another one of my favourites from “Be More Kind” and I’m curious (and admittedly a bit wary) about the live version. I love this song especially for the full instrumentation and how it builds up over the course of the song: from the acoustic guitar to the strings, the horns and the drums at the end. It’s going to be interesting to see how they will recreate that on stage. [Album version]
#03 Sailor’s Boots (The Second Three Years, 2011)
I told you there’d be one exemption. He opened with that one at the Sensible Sunday show of Lost Evenings in May, but as it’s one of my favourite songs and he doesn’t play it very often, I hope to get another chance before the year is over. [Album version]
#04 Sea Legs (The First Three Years, 2009)
I love this one and the fact that he played it at Lost Evenings 2017 on the one night I sat out (Sleep Is For The Week Anniversary) still fills me with some regret. He also seems to play it at gigs on boats, so maybe I should make sure to see him at one of those unique venues some day. [Live version from Lost Evenings 2017]
#05 Once We Were Anarchists (Sleep Is For The Week, 2007)
The same regret as mentioned above does apply here. I’ve only ever heard that song live once and I miss screaming along to it. It’s one of those songs which I might take away from something different than Frank had intended when he wrote it. I don’t know. He always claims that once a song is released anyone can feel free to interpret it anyway they like. I’ve obviously rephrased here.
Since the early 2000s I’ve been actively involved in politics on a local level as a member of the Green Party. The summer of 2013 when I discovered Frank’s music also had a lot of campaigning / canvassing as we had federal elections coming up in the fall. And it was frustrating, because people were already so indifferent about politics. I could have dealt with indifference, but the “grab goodies, but not a pamphlet” mentality of many folks and the rudeness of some, who just came to rant and spew insults, was driving me crazy. In those moments I not only lived the
But it’s hard to keep on fighting the good fight
When no one else seems bothered,
When no one’s on your side.
part of the lyrics, but also the
And if politics means helping all the people then my political career is pretty fucked,
Because the truth is I don’t like people all that much
part. It was sort of liberating to have these words on loud on headphones (or in the car) and sing along to. In the end though I always came back to
And I’m tired of fighting a fight that’s not my fight,
But so is everybody else – we’re all on the same side.
and showed up to campaign in our small city centre on a rainy Saturday morning after a short night and a 3 hour drive back from Bremen, where I had just seen my first ever Frank show in early September 2013. :-) He played that song the other time I saw him play in Bremen (January 2016) but I haven’t heard it in the +20 gigs since then. I miss it. [Album version]
#06 Nashville Tennessee (The First Three Years, 2009)
Another song I love but haven’t heard live yet. Beautiful lyrics from a nerdy linguistic point of view. I love the sentiment and I’d really like to sing along to that one once. [Live version (from… Texas *g*), 2018]
#07 Poetry of the Deed (Poetry of the Deed, 2009)
This one has been on my wish list in 2016 and I was in fact lucky enough to hear it back then. Never since though. I obviously am a huge fan of some of the lyrics of this song (see blog title) and to hear those and to sing and dance along to once more would indeed make me quite happy. [Official music video]
#08 Wherefore Art Thou, Gene Simmons? (Tape Deck Heart (Deluxe), 2013)
I admit I didn’t fully appreciate that song until I heard Frank played it solo at Lost Evenings last year. For some reason that performance was eye-opening in the way that I realized how beautiful that song actually was. That was the first (and so far last) time I heard it and I could do with another round. [Album version]
#09 Wanderlust (The Second Three Years, 2011)
Sweet little gem of a song. I always feel a bit bad for the girl he’s singing about. But it such a lovely folk song and I didn’t have the luck to hear it yet. According to setlist.fm he’s played it a few times on the US/CAN tour this year, so I will remain hopeful for the European run. [Album version]
#10 We Shall Not Overcome (Tape Deck Heart (Deluxe), 2013)
A few months before I discovered Frank’s music in 2013 I had started a new job. A job I’m still doing and actually enjoying most of the time. But back then in the early days of the job and even now six years on I still sometimes feel way in over my head. Imposter syndrome and all that. Back then some of the lyrics of this song and to sing along to them loudly helped. In a way. And I can’t help it, but I am “a fan of every band who ever made me want to move my feet” and would love to shout it out once loud and proud. According to setlist.fm Frank has only played that song a few times in 2012/2013 and never since. I don’t know if he dropped it for technical reasons (difficult to incorporate in a setlist) or personal reasons (grown to hate it), but at the moment it seems very unlikely he’ll revive it. A girl can dream though, right? [Album version]
So these are ten songs I would like to hear a few of at some of the Frank gigs I’ve coming up this year. Then there also are some of my favourite among the classics, which I hope he’ll never drop from the setlist. And then there are some PS4NP songs I have loved to hear live so much and would love to hear some more time on this run as well. Less than three weeks till my first gig of this tour. I can’t freaking wait!