Sooo, I’ve been to another Frank Turner show. Well, the show already was a week ago, but I only now get around to finishing this post about it, because a stupid sinus infection/bronchitis took hold of my head and mind till now. Anyway, Frank Turner Round 2? Even better than the show in Bremen and as I considered the show in Bremen one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a long time, you can figure out what that says about the show in Cologne last Friday. Absolutely incredible. And yes, it still might be due to the fact that I really absolutely love Frank’s music, but also because he knows how to put on a amazing show. (there are not enough positive adjectives in the English language, I think. Or my mind is still to foggy from the sinus infection).
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I don’t want to repeat all the things I wrote about the Bremen show, but they’re all still valid of course. This man and this band know how to rock a venue. The most impressive thing to me though was that Frank managed to make both shows a unique experience because he didn’t just routinely run through his set list and introductions of songs and anecdotes to tell. He started with “I Still Believe” instead of “Four Simple Words” and he added at least one song (“English Curse”) he hadn’t played in Bremen. And more important nothing on stage felt rehearsed or like they’ve done this routine over and over again. Which I know probably is a wrong impression, because I know by now (from youtube clips from this tour) that he had used some of the introductions / stories he used on my two shows on other shows as well. The main thing though: To me the show in Cologne didn’t feel like a (poor) copy of the Bremen show. And I really, really appreciate that Frank obviously tries to make each night a unique experience for everyone. So, yeah, he’s getting another gold star for that (as if I hadn’t given him enough gold stars in my mind already).
He’s also keeping a tighter leash on his microphone by now *g* which is a relief, because already in Bremen I was worried that there might be an accident at some point. And just a few days later his band member Ben had to have a head wound stapled because Frank’s microphone had hit him in the head. No joke!
Frank talked a bit in German again, as he is learning German at the moment. It was adorable and he’s quite good already, I think. Of course some the sentences you learn in a language class are not really fit for normal everyday conversation, but at least they provide funny stories to tell during a concert. He also did “Eulogy” in German again and introduced it with something like this: “I know how to sing two songs in German. One is from Marius Müller Westerhagen. Don’t worry, I’m not doing that one tonight.” But then he played a chord and sang “Freiheit… Freiheit” and the whole crowd right away continued with the correct lyrics “….ist das Einzige, was zählt”. Frank again: “Yeah, every German know the lyrics to this song. I tried to play it at a concert in Austria last week. And the audience was like “What the fuck is he singing about?!?!?” You probably have to be German to think this was funny. But I definitely was laughing out loud. (I just realized that I had almost typed LOLing. Yikes, it has come to that).
I took some photos at the beginning of the show (and during “Glory Hallelujah” which kept me busy while the rest of the audience was enthusiastically singing along). I also took some photos during John Allen’s set as first supporting act, because Frank came onto the stage to support his support act during the Counting Crows cover “Mr. Jones” I think that act alone and the fact that he had obviously a lot of fun doing it, is saying a lot about Frank. (gold star, again).
Before the show I hadn’t been quite sure if I really wanted to hang around after the show and try to meet Frank, because I actually thought I had long grown out of that fan-behaviour. I had my share of that in the late 90s and early 2000s (with pop bands and/or TV actors) and admit that I’m a bit embarrassed about some of the things I did. But this amazing show left me very much impressed and switched my fan-mode up a gear. I also admit that I wanted to take the chance to see if the idea I by now have of “Frank Turner, the person” *g*, from all the interviews, youtube clips, tweets and of course his music, holds up to the “real” Frank Turner in person. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone, I really can’t explain it any better.
So, after the show I hang around outside the venue, with a few more fans. They seem to have done that before. Just like I may or may not have done it with other bands/singers/actors in my lifetime :-) Ok, I totally did. And that’s why, when I shamelessly eavesdropped on their conversations, felt reminded of old times. Crazy times and not only good times. But as I’ve been there myself, I am in no position to judge or comment and thus won’t. But it was a weird experience after all. Sort of like watching a younger self do… things. I know that’s quite cryptic.
I’ll spare you the story of an overeager security guy and just state that we had to wait at the parking lot exit outside of the venue property. Around 0:30 (1 hour after the show had ended) I started to think “WTF are you doing here?” It would have been the sane decision to just let it go and drive home, because there was a big chance that we only would see the tour bus drive past us at the parking lot exit. But then I also started to think: “Oh, well, you’ve waited THAT long now it doesn’t matter if it’s even longer” and I really wanted to not give up the chance to catch Frank after all. Crazy? Definitely. So I decided to stay as long as I either saw the tour bus pass me by or get the chance to meet Frank before the bus left the lot after all.
Around 1:45 (over 2 hours after the show ended) the one remaining group of fans decided to venture further into the parking lot and behind the venue after all and I just trotted along. Safety in numbers and all :-) And there was the tour bus still and the band members and some of the crew standing around, talking. To me it seemed like they were about to get on the bus soon. None of us fans dared to address these guys though and thus it was probably the most awkward moment of the night. They were over there and we were over here, clearly watching them and waiting for someone *g* and … well, I never thought I’d be in that situation again, because let’s face it, it is kind of embarrassing.
Before any of us fans could make up her mind to retreat back from the parking lot, Frank emerged from somewhere. I think it was inside the building, but I’m not sure any more. I hope it was and that he didn’t get out of the bus just because we were standing around clearly waiting for him. Frank obviously knew or recognized at least one of the fans I was with and thus came over and said “Hi” to him first. Well this fan got a hug and then each one of us got hugged by Frank as well :-) Don’t ask me specifics of what we chatted about afterwards, I hope we thanked him for taking the time to come talk to us. I do remember that Frank once again explained that he had to have massage and physiotherapy after the shows because of his injured back and that’s why it always takes so long before he comes out to the bus. At some point I finally got the nerve to ask him to sign my DVD cover and to have my photo taken with him. Two requests he graciously fulfilled and then there were more photos with the other fans and we said goodbye and all. It was over in a just a few minutes.
But, yes, worth every minute of the 2+ hours I was standing around waiting. [The jury’s still out on if it was worth the stupid cold that has confined me to my home this week and which might have started during these 2 hours in 10 °C at night. I’m afraid the jury might say yes in the end as well]. It was worth it not just because of the photo or the autograph, as I’m usually not that big on collecting these kind of memorabilia anyway. They just make it so much easier to start talking to any artist at the stage door (or hockey players after a game or…) because it sort of breaks the ice. I was too nervous to talk / ask anything else in that moment, but I guess I could have, because Frank seemed pretty relaxed and down to earth and really nice and open. A bit tired, but that’s no wonder after the concert. I was tired and I had just been a person in the audience :-)
So the big question: did the “real” Frank Turner *g* match the “image” I had of him? Definitely. Absolutely. 100%. And yes, I know talking to us fans still might have been just one of the things his job routinely requires him to do, but at least he didn’t make me feel like it was. And I really appreciated that. Just like he didn’t seem to just routinely go through a fixed list of songs / stories on stage. I know “authentic” is such a overused word these days, but to me it felt like Frank Turner was authentically himself on stage and after. Especially after, and I really, really appreciate that I had a chance to experience that.
One thing that caught me by surprise – and I feel almost silly for writing it, because it shouldn’t have been a surprise – was that he is so much taller than me. I admit I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to his height before, but I should have figured it out when I watched the Wembley DVD after the Bremen show, because he was a head taller than his mum. But I obviously didn’t connect the dots in my mind. Or I was just too tired and befuddled that night in Cologne to remember it. But I admit I was a bit surprised to see this tall and lanky guy standing in front of me (and hugging me).
I’m also still surprised about myself and in fact have been surprised for weeks about my ongoing
infatuation fascination with this guy, because he’s not the type I might usually be “going for”. Yes, his music is great and he’s putting on awesome shows and he’s not bad looking. But he also has – in his music, interviews etc – taking up stance on several issues. A stance I don’t share. In fact, I think I might disagree with Frank on a lot things: religion or the necessity of government are just two that immediately come to my mind. And I know this won’t ever dampen my love for his music or diminish the fun I will have at his shows (I’ve already got a ticket for the London show in February 2014, for that matter). But I also can’t stop myself from digging around the internet every once in a while to find out what other issue he might have spoken out about and how his opinion might be quite contrary to my own. And I still haven’t figured out why I’m doing that instead of just letting it go.
I guess what I would really, really love to do one day is to meet Frank over a beer and discuss these very contrary opinions and beliefs. Or maybe I wouldn’t, because I’m sure he could easily out-talk me in minutes and that would be quite embarrassing. I might only stand a chance if he had to make his case in German :-)