Irving Plaza is not one of my favorite venues. It’s a large ballroom that holds about 1000 people. Sound can be iffy. Sightlines are difficult. I don’t like standing in the middle of the huge crowd, so I stand in the back where there’s more space and some air. But what I mostly see is the back of people’s heads. But I missed Frank Turner a few years ago because I had pneumonia and this time around I was determined to see him.
When I arrived the first act was already on stage. Beans On Toast is British folk singer Jay McAllister on acoustic guitar. The music takes a liberal political stand but there are also love songs and drinking songs.
Next up was Skinny Lister, a London-based folk rock band. I’d also say that they sound like a Celtic rock band. The band is Dan Heptinstall (vocals, guitar), Max Thomas (melodeon, mandolin, vocals), Lorna Thomas (vocals), Michael Camino (double bass, vocals), Thom Mills (drums), and Sam “Mule” Brace (guitar, concertina, mandolin, vocals). The band is extreme high-energy with the entire band dancing all over stage, including Camino who spins and throws his bass up in the air. He even crowd-surfed with the double bass – continuing to play while the audience moved him around. Later Lorna Thomas jumped down and waltzed with the audience. Many in the audience knew the words to the songs and if you didn’t know the words there were plenty of great hooks that you learned by repetition.
This was the second of three sold-out nights for Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. I had seen him years ago as a solo act opening for Social Distortion (the other opening act was Lucero) and I really liked him, especially the song “Photosynthesis.” The Sleeping Souls are Ben Lloyd (electric guitar, mandolin), Tarrant Anderson (electric bass), Matt Nasir (keyboards), and Nigel Powell (drums) with Turner on acoustic guitar. This was another high-energy post-punk folk-rock set with the crowd singing along to every one of the songs (which is one of Turner’s two concert rules – the other is to be kind to each other). For the last song, Turner threw himself into the crowd and surfed while singing. It was a fun and exciting evening, which I enjoyed even though I was way in the back. By the way, the sound was excellent.
By Carene Lydia Lopez