44 Shows. Over 100 Different Songs. And A Few Surprises…

When I finally dared wading into Frank Turner fan community waters in late 2015 after being a bit of a loner fan at his shows for the first two years, I saw other fans using lists and spreadsheets to keep track of their personal show count and of what songs they’ve heard live. I liked the idea and started my own, which served me well for a few years, all the while it didn’t really make good use of the neat features a (digital) spreadsheet has to offer. After this last run of shows in the UK I finally bit the bullet and started a new much more extensive spreadsheet. Yes, I’m a nerd and a fangirl. What else is new?

I relied on setlist.fm for most of the shows, because for the last few years in which I’ve been going to Frank shows, its database seems pretty reliable. There’s only one show – a free show as part of the Games Com Festival in Cologne in 2014 – that has an incomplete list on setlist.fm. I didn’t realize it back then or I would have tried to fill in the blanks from my memory at the time. I did that now in my own spreadsheet, by looking at the songs which were fixtures at the other shows that summer and guessing that they only played for 70 – 80 minutes at that festival. It still bugs me a little though, that I can’t be 100% sure about my statistics, but for the sake of the argument and especially my own sanity, I just have to let it go and take my stats for my show #08 as a fact.

So, my statistics from early September 2013 till late January 2019:

Shows so far: 44. 
31 with the full band, 9 solo shows. (4 of those were short sets at record stores etc.)

Different songs I’ve heard: 114.
Out of a over 170 songs repertoire – at least according to Frank’s website – that’s not too bad, is it? There are about 60 songs left and only about 5 of those are songs I would really love to hear some day. Most of the rest would be nice to have on the setlist once – some more for their statistical value than others – and a few I could well do without for the rest of my life. All in all the sum of “songs I’ve heard live” comes to 962, which means, that there is a very good chance I might hear my 1000th live song some time later this year. Mind blowing in a way, isn’t it?

The top 10 songs, I’ve heard most often

The Way I Tend To Be (Tape Deck Heart, 2013) – 38x
I Still Believe (England Keep My Bones, 2011) – 37x
Recovery (Tape Deck Heart, 2013) – 37x
Photosynthesis (Love, Ire & Song, 2008) – 36x
Four Simple Words (Tape Deck Heart, 2013) – 35x
If Ever I Stray (England Keep My Bones, 2011) – 32x
Get Better (Positive Songs For Negative People, 2015) – 32x
The Ballad Of Me And My Friends (Sleep Is For The Week, 2007) – 31x
Try This At Home (Poetry Of The Deed, 2009) – 31x
The Road (Poetry Of The Deed, 2009) – 30x

No surprise here, really. I’ve jumped on the Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls train in 2013 when they toured with “Tape Deck Heart”. I’ve been going to more and more shows in the following album tour cycles, which might explain how “Get Better” made it up there.

When broken down into songs of which album I’ve heard most often “Tape Deck Heart” (2013) and “England Keep My Bones” (2011) make up about 20% each, followed by “Positive Songs For Negative People (2015) with 17%, which so far was to be expected. Taking the album release order into account I expected to find “Poetry Of The Deed” (2009) up ahead of “Love, Ire & Song” (2008). But it’s not. Far from it. Expect for “Try This At Home” (31x) and “The Road” (30x) I hardly ever heard a song from “Poetry…”. “Love,…” has more solid fixtures on the setlist, like obviously “Photosynthesis” (36x), but also “Long Live The Queen” (27x), “I Knew Prufrock…” (24x) and “Reasons…” (21x).

Interesting stats, I hadn’t expected:
I’ve heard “One Foot Before The Other” 13 times already. At each of my first six shows (2013/2014) apparently. I absolutely blanked that out, possibly because I didn’t really like that song all that much in the beginning. I liked the music, but the lyrics felt too dark and morbid to me. Until I heard Frank talk about the song and why he wrote it at a songwriting interview in Cologne in March 2014 and then it finally made sense and my opinion of the song turned around completely. Which explains why I was so happy to hear it twice this year already!

“Balthazar, Impresario” is the song of the rarer ones – as in not on a regular album – I’ve obviously heard the most often: seven times. I wouldn’t have figured that, but I don’t mind as it’s a lovely song, which I enjoy listening to. In contrast to that, there are a few of the rarer (album) songs I had expected to get a higher count, just from how I well I seem to remember them: “St Christopher…” I’ve only heard five times and “To Take You Home…” only four times, which feels less than I remember.

Songs, I’ve heard before the release date:
For each of the last two album – which are the only albums I’ve followed the “write / record / release / tour” process for – I’ve heard four songs live before the album was released. Sometimes even before it’s been recorded probably. My favourite among those are “Get Better” in 2014, “Be More Kind” in 2017 and “21st Century Survival Blues” in early 2018.

Songs, I haven’t heard often enough:
I’m glad, that this spreadsheet confirmed my impression that I haven’t heard “Mittens” and “Josephine” often enough since the 2016 “Positive Songs…” tour. I know songs have to be retired to make space for new material, but those were among my favourite live songs from that album and I missed them. Except for Lost Evening 2017 and 2018, where both songs had their slot of course, the last time I heard “Josephine” was a show in Germany in summer 2016 and “Mittens” at the solo tour in France in 2017. Thus I was so thrilled, that Frank played that once more at the solo gig at Hat Works Museum a few weeks ago (Thanks, Amanda!).

Song requests:
Self-indulgent fangirl that I am, I’ve also marked the occasions Frank played a song at my request / suggestion or at least the shows when I’m more or less sure he did. All in all that happened 4-5 times in these five years. And I don’t think I send him song requests all that often. In the beginning I just didn’t dare to. Then there was time in 2015/2016 in which I might have overdone it a bit? But with the 15 shows I’ve seen him play in 2018, I only remember sending him a request on two occasions, that’s not too many, I hope. Right now I can’t imagine any future request can beat “Sailor’s Boots” at my show #40, so I’m not sure if I’ll ask him to play a specific song ever again. Though never say never as my 50th show most probably won’t happen until 2020, …

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