Frank Turner/Lucero/The Menzingers - Live in Baltimore (Cover Artwork)

Frank Turner / Lucero / The Menzingers

Live in Baltimore (2018)

live show

On an evening of torrential rain in Baltimore, Maryland, I checked out Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls on their current world tour.

Make no mistake, the weather was horrible. The wind and the rain never let up, and the open sides of the MECU (formerly Pier Six) Pavilion clearly did not get the “Be More Kind” message. However, the generally good-natured crowd and a lineup of great performances had people moving enough that the chill in ones bones was quickly forgotten.

First up was the Homeless Gospel Choir. This was early enough in the evening that the venue had not yet filled up, and admittedly I missed probably a couple of songs. But the solo acoustic act did have a handful of devotees scattered around, loudly cheering and singing along. His poignant and often hilarious tunes set a great tone for the evening.

Philadelphia’s Menzingers were up next, and brought the still half-sized crowd to its feet. The Menzingers have done plenty of touring with Turner over the years, and the crowd seemed to be just as excited for them as they were the headliner. Not having much time for banter, the guys simply packed in the jams practically nonstop. A good number of attendees ignored their seating assignments and attempted to get in front of the stage to sing along. A logical desire at such a show, but security was, of course, offering no leniency. At any rate, the crowd was energized, and the band delivered solidly, broken hearts be damned.

Direct support was provided by longtime Tennessee country-punks Lucero. I had seen this band only once before, in the embryonic stages of their career, sometime in the very early 2000s. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy either one. Lucero, at least for me, is one of those bands that’s just better on record than they are in person. There’s no lack of talent, there’s no lack of creativity. Something simply gets lost in the translation, that’s all. And again, my own opinion only.

Anyway, Lucero played the entirety of their upcoming 11th album, Among The Ghosts. I didn’t hear a whole lot of unbroken ground compared to their previous efforts, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Lucero has been around long enough, they have mastered their oh-so-Nashville country/blues/rock blend, with no need to deviate. Unfortunately, however, the crowd seemed to be joining me in wishing they could perform with a little more heart.

Taking the stage just after 9pm was the ever-jovial Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. Anyone who’s ever seen these guys knows that the energy is turned to 11 from the onset and never lets up.

Kicking things off with “1933”, the first single off this years’ Be More Kind, the entire pavilion absorbed and reflected the passion coming from the stage. The very diverse audience (I saw people ranging from younger than my daughter’s age, all the way to my parents’) was singing along to most of the set, even the new stuff. A special and appropriate highlight of the set was Frank doing a solo cover of the Counting Crows’ “Raining In Baltimore”.

A very bold choice came during the encore. During “Four Simple Words”, probably Turner’s fastest song, Frank did his normal routine of performing the song while surfing/running through the audience. Normally that ends the evening on a very high note, a final expulsion of any remaining energy the band and audience may have. However, it ended up being the nostalgic ballad “Polaroid Picture” that brought the night to a close. Again, a bold choice; rarely does one see a performance of any genre that doesn’t conclude with the dancin’-est song in the catalogue. But the songs’ reflective mood had people with their arms around their neighbors, swaying along. Overall a pretty satisfying conclusion.