Frank Turner - live in New York City (Cover Artwork)

Frank Turner

live in New York City (2013)

live show

It's been approximately six years since Frank Turner first came over to the United States to perform, and a lot has happened since then. By "a lot" I mean going from playing clubs and bars around the world to performing at the Olympic opening ceremonies, headlining Wembley Arena, playing main stage sets at Reading and Leeds, recording four full-length records on prominent record labels, and appearing on a number of splits and compilations to name some of his more uhm... notable achievements. Turner's indefatigable work ethic and ceaseless touring schedule has amounted his playing 1505 shows as of his performance at Terminal 5 in NYC on Nov. 27, 2013. And like he does so well, he made the 2000+ crowd that night feel like they were a part of that milestone with him, as he thanked the crowd for all of their support and urged them to sing along and become a part of the show throughout.

Turner, accompanied by his band the Sleeping Souls (which would probably more aptly be named something like the "We-Give-It-All-We-Got-Every-Night Souls," as opposed to something so passive) kept the energy level at 11 and the crowd singing and bouncing along all night long. The set list was comprised of a perfectly constructed mix of older and newer songs (aside from the absence of almost any songs from Sleep Is For The Week). The balance of hits and deeper cuts was struck so well that the aforementioned deeper cuts basically sounded like hits live, and took on a life of their own compared to the album versions. Also, Turner performed sans guitar for almost the entirety of the show due to a back injury. Apparently, we were lucky he was playing the show at all since he had been advised to cancel his shows for the rest of the year by his doctor (whom Turner jokingly told to "fuck off," as he mentioned onstage.) The lack of guitar provided for an even more buoyant Turner, who bounded around the stage for practically the entire show. It made me think of what a Million Dead (the punk band he formerly fronted) show must have been like, substituting the aggression for a desire to dance along to so many of the feel-good, celebratory songs he has written.

Some of the highlights from the set included its opener, "Photosynthesis," a classic from Love, Ire and Song about growing up (but not growing old). It was surprising to hear practically the entire crowd singing along, as I feared that the not so "punk" looking college rock crowd might have been there awaiting some of the newer songs off of Tape Deck Heart, his ready-for-radio major label debut. The band did then segue into "Plain Sailing Weather" from that record, and by the time the chorus kicked in their full power was made clear as the folk took a back seat and the rock was brought. "Glory Hallelujah" translated magically live, as Turner led a choir of non-believers through the atheist hymn with a hook featuring the "There is no God" sing along. Turner then slowed things down with "The Way I Tend to Be," followed two songs later by a piano version "The Ballad of Me and My Friends." A few deep cuts – "Wessex Boy," "Oh Brother" and "If I Ever Stray" – were thrown into the mix. Closer "Broken Piano" slayed, as the thudding dream beat beneath the crushing lament brought the house down.

For the encore, Turner played a cover "from the area" as he told the crowd. When the crowd found out that "from the area" meant New Jersey, Turner was obviously met with an onslaught of booing. But his rendition of Springsteen's "Thunder Road" was enough to make amends. And the segue into "I Still Believe" cured any remaining bad blood. As I walked back towards the coat check to grab my bag, Turner closed the night out with "Four Simple Words" and as his lyrics "I want to dance" echoed through the old warehouse-turned-venue, I looked around the crowd, and it was clear that he wasn't the only one.

Set list:
1. Photosynthesis
2. Plain Sailing Weather
3. Peggy Sang The Blues
4. Losing Days
5. Try This At Home
6. Glory Hallelujah
7. Reasons Not To Be An Idiot
8. The Way I Tend To Be
9. Wessex Boy
10. The Ballad Of Me And My Friends
11. Oh Brother
12. I Am Disappeared
13. The Road
14. If I Ever Stray
15. I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
16. --
17. Long Live The Queen
18. Recovery
19. Broken Piano

20. Thunder Road (Bruce Springsteen cover)
21. I Still Believe
22. Four Simple Words