Thursday, September 22, 2011

Live Review - Frank Turner @ Bowery Ballroom

Just after 10 pm on a rather warm September night in New York City, the surprisingly tall and slender Frank Turner and his backing band The Sleeping Souls took the stage to a sold out Bowery Ballroom and inspired a crowd of 500 for nearly 90 minutes. Opening with "Eulogy" off his recent solo album, England, Keep My Bones, the normal acoustic sing-a-long was kicked up a notch with The Sleeping Souls adding extra skin and layers to the brilliant song, it would be immediate that this was not going to be a gig where Frank went through his song book and played on his acoustic guitar, it was going to be much more, it was going to be something on a grander and special level.

Turner, who used to front the British hardcore band Million Dead has been playing English folk meets punk music since 2008 on his own - think Joe Strummer meets Billy Bragg with American folk influence of Woody Guthrie and Springsteen tossed in. Turner, who has been on the road all summer in support of his new album, returned to America after a triumphant set at the Reading and Leeds festivals in his native England just a few weeks ago. As the boozy crowd would scream back the words to Frank's songs and jump around having the time of their lives, it was apparent Frank was loving every second of it. Burning through his songs off England, Keep My Bones; "I Still Believe," "Peggy Sang the Blues," "One Foot Before the Other," Turner was showing his bones and vulnerability as modern lyrical mastermind. He maybe influenced by those mentioned prior, but he has a way about his singing that is reminiscent of Jonah Matranga (who the two have recorded together) and pokes fun at pop culture and proves that if guided by history, love and passion, those two elements will take you far in life. As Frank proved all of this with is song "English Curse," a historical a cappella number song about the region of Wessex, England where he grew up. Digging deep in his catalog and playing fan favorites like "The Road," "Love Ire & Song," "Reasons Not to Be an Idiot," Turner gave a lesson in life and living in his songs. With his band backing him and making everything that much more climatic, Turner's set is one that will be remembered as a night that music can inspire and unite all.