I started this post on Saturday, but I never got around to finish it until now, because I was so busy on the weekend and I spent most of my work week so far in IT training which sucked all the energy out of me. It’s a regular day at the office tomorrow and then a hopefully less eventful weekend. Hockey season is going to start tomorrow night, so that will be an “event”, of course but I’ll plan to be pretty lazy at home for most of the weekend after that.
So, the Frank Turner gig I went to on Friday? One of the best concerts I’ve been to in a loooooooooong time. A really, really long time. And yes, that’s probably due to the fact, that I really love Frank’s music and have been listening to his music almost constantly for weeks now. But also because Frank and the Sleeping Souls definitely know how to rock a venue. Any venue. I’m typing this while watching (with the headphones on, so I could turn up the volume) the Wembley Live DVD which I bought at the gig and it’s amazing to see it on my TV and not just via youtube clips on my computer or phone.
Last Friday was an insanely hot day for early September around here (30 °C and more) and I already felt like I was melting in the waiting line outside. When the doors opened I went to the bar first to get some water (not enough probably) and checked out the merchandise where I bought the DVD and the sticker set, because I really wanted a FTHC sticker for my car. I’m not getting tattooed, so a bumper sticker has to do it *g*
I managed to get a decent spot close enough to the stage for my taste and more important it was at the wall, so I could lean against it while we had to wait for the supporting acts to come on stage. Waiting and sweating and melting. It was so hot inside already and I wasn’t even moving but just standing there leaning against the wall. By the end of the show I was soaked in sweat like I had never been before, not after a long bike ride or any other kind of exhausting workout. Seriously. But it was all so worth it.
John Allen was the first supporting act and I really liked him. Just a guy with his guitar. Simple but quite impressive and a really nice guy. I bought his CD afterwards, because singer/songerwriters like him need all the support they can get in the castingshow-times like these. I follow him on twitter and instagram now and found proof that the story how he came to support Frank on this tour is quite true. He went to the Frank Turner gig in Hamburg in the spring and while his friends and him were waiting in the line outside he sang some songs to entertain them. Turns out Frank Turner noticed it and liked it and asked him if he wanted to support him on the next tour. Incredible and awesome, isn’t it?
The second supporting act, Lucero from Nashville, didn’t do anything for me, so… I’ll jump to the main act right away. Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls came on stage around 21:45 and rocked the venue for the next 90 minutes. It was just soooooo awesome. He started with “Four Little Words” and followed with “Try This At Home”, “If Ever I Stray” and “Reasons Not To Be An Idiot”. Or maybe it was in different order, but these songs were right at the start and the dancing and singing and shouting I did (and everyone around me) was just incredible.
I’m not sure about which song he played in which order after that and I’m not sure the setlists I found online are really reliable. But his set included a lot of my favourite songs (“The Road”, “Losing Days”) and also a lot of songs I like listening to as well (“Dan’s Song”, “Plain Sailing Weather”). He also did “Broken Piano”, which probably is my least favourite song from the new album, so that was song during which I could catch my breath ;-)
He also did “Glory Hallelujah”, which I expected him to, but wasn’t sure how I’d react to, because it’s a song I’m feeling really ambivalent about. On the one hand, I think it’s a masterpiece of songwriting, music and lyrics wise: it’s catchy and Frank gets his point across. And I can actually enjoy listening to it, because I can appreciate the song’s musical qualities. On the other hand it’s the only song I don’t sing along to, or at least only to very few lines and never to the chorus. Why? Well, Frank Turner is an atheist and this song is his gospel-like anthem about it. The point (and the chorus) being “There is no God”.
I don’t consider myself a overly religious person, but I’m a member of the Catholic Church and well, I DO believe there is a God. And I’m usually not bothered by someone stating there isn’t, because to each their own and all, unless the point of believing or not believing is forced on someone. Anyway, not singing along to the song when it’s on my iPod is my compromise.
It’s quite another thing though to be in the crowd at a Frank Turner gig and hear almost everyone around you singing with all their hearts “There is no God”. It honestly was disconcerting and I felt really out of place. Which surprised me a lot, because as stated above, I don’t consider myself a very religious person. But I guess it’s ingrained deeper than I think. No idea how I will handle it at the Cologne show next week.
“I Still Believe”, the song that started my immense love for Frank Turner was one of the many highlights for me. I was sooooo looking forward to sing this song with the crowd and I wasn’t disappointed. Another great song was the German version of “Eulogy” and of course “Photosynthesis” at the end, even though I was so exhausted and sitting/kneeling down for a while to then jump up was not easy. At all. I was so glad I had the wall at my back to support me *g*
He also did “The Ballad of Me And My Friends”, as the first encore and it was done beautifully, just accompanied by Matt on the piano and a bit slower than the original song. Frank dedicated it to a friend in the music business in the US, who passed away a few days before and it was a wonderful tribute.
So, the music was amazing, but so was the man himself. His energy on stage is impressive and I don’t know how he does it for like 200 nights a year. He’s a beast and I mean that in the best and nicest way possible. He has injured his back some time ago and his doctors actually advised him to cancel all shows for the rest of the year, but in the end there was the compromise of doing the shows with a lot of physiotherapy before and after every gig and with Frank not being allowed to play his guitar. I’ve seen enough concert footage online to know that Frank without his guitar is almost unfathomable, because he is a singer/songwriter who started out with just him and his guitar travelling around England. So, Frank without guitar? Really weird. But he still rocked it and put his energy into dancing and jumping and all that, to an extent that I was worried about his back again. A lot actually.
Anyway, to me it was obvious that he often didn’t quite know what to do with his hands, when he couldn’t grab his guitar. He sometimes looked adorably dorky. I also mean that in the nicest way ever. And he himself made fun about it as well. Somewhere in the middle he talked about James Hetfield, lead singer/guitarist in Metallica who broke his arm before a tour and couldn’t play guitar with his arm in a cast and obviously also didn’t know what to do with his hands all the time. Frank said something like “I saw him on stage and thought he looked like an idiot. But now I’m probably looking just as stupid.” ;-)
The end of the Wembley Arena show (still got the DVD on) reminded me of another nice thing about Frank Turner on stage. Just like at the Wembley gig (and probably at every show he plays) at the show in Bremen he introduced and thanked his band and crew during the last song and ended it with (quoting fom the DVD) “And last, but never least, the most important members of the band, without whom no show would be worth a damn. On backing vocals the people of [insert concert city]”
It’s just nice to be appreciated as vital part of the whole night and not just as the folks who paid for the gig, if you know what I mean. I’ve seen enough big names who thanked the audience a lot less empathetically, if they thanked them at all.
Soooo, yeah, one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to and I can’t wait for my encore in Cologne next Friday.