Frank Turner at Town Hall? That did not seem to make sense. Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls is a band that you stand for while they rock out. But since it was Frank Turner, I wanted to go anyway.
As usual, I had a seat in the last row of the balcony. It’s a small enough space that it is still a good seat and I can stand if I want to. While waiting for the opening act, I was making a mental note of the music playing – Lucinda Williams, Dar Williams, and then realized that all the music on the sound system was women. Interesting choice. I did not know anything about Turner’s latest album, so I did not realize the significance of this until later.
Opening act was Kayleigh Goldsworthy playing an acoustic and electric guitar, for which she said she knew a few chords. To me, she sounded like all the indie girls with guitars out there. There was nothing that stood out. My favorite song of her set was a cover of the Concrete Blonde song “Joey.” Kevin Devine joined her for two songs, including one of his own, “Margaret Reed O’Shaughnessy.” It was cute when he applauded after one of the songs because he was carried away with Goldsworthy. Her parents met when her mother auditioned for her father’s band and they were in a band together until Goldsworthy was in HS.
Her setlist is here on setlist.fm.
Frank Turner came out and sat in a chair to perform. There was a table next to him and a curtain behind him. He played songs from his latest album, No Man’s Land, which is entirely about different women in history but most of them are not historical figures. They are women that did something unusual for women of their time or something happened to them. (If you click on his website, you can click on the cards and get bios on these women.)
“The Graveyard of the Outcast Dead” is about a church that ran a prostitution ring. But they buried the women in a mass grave because the church would not bury them in consecrated ground. People knew the grave existed but did not know where. When they were extending the Underground it was discovered and that land is now a memorial to all those women.
At this point I glanced over to the side and saw that there was a signer for the deaf.
“Nica” was a Rothschild, who heard “’Round Midnight” and fell in love with jazz. She once took a drug rap for Monk. Turner featured a scat solo in the song, which he apologized for. I thought it was okay but he should not make a habit of that. In “A Perfect Wife,” a woman from Alabama leads a very sad life until about halfway through the song we find out that she became a serial killer. “The Death of Dora Hand” featured a guitar solo and Turner told us he sucks at guitar solos, so he needed encouragement from us. Plus, if we were clapping we would not be able to hear the solo. The applause during his solo was one of the loudest of the night. “Sister Rosetta” is about exactly who you think it is about. Turner wanted to give her respect because she has been written out of the script. Turner sends songs to his mother for her to okay. The day he sent her “Rosemary Jane” he had forgotten it was Mother’s Day, so his mother thought the song was for her for the holiday.
After a short break, the Sleeping Souls came out and they were all seated also, keeping with the acoustic feel of the show. This was show #2402 (Turner always posts and usually announces how many shows he has done). He told us that there would be songs about unhappy love because he used to be crap at love and how he pours his heart into these songs but life goes on and then you have to explain to your current partner about the old song. He took one old song, “Reasons Not to be an Idiot,” and played like it in a rockabilly style. Before “Tell Tale Signs” he said he is homesick on the road and has wanderlust when he is home. “One Foot Before the Other” is about death. He moved to London when he was 18yo and had a crappy telesales job. He would walk around desolate areas wearing a trench coat with Camus sticking out of the pocket just in case he met a woman. “The Way I Tend to Be” is about calling his ex when he should not have. He wrote an entire album about that relationship and then he moved forward and wrote an apology song, “Never My Intention to Hurt You.”
Since he was about to be 40yo, there was “Love Forty Down.” It may be a bad score in tennis but the game is not over yet. Turner moved to the keyboards to sing “There She Is,” which was written for his now wife when they were on vacation in Italy. She got up before he had finished the song and he made her leave so he could finish it and present it to her.
When the band went into “Photosynthesis,” the entire audience got up as one and sang along. Then we sang “Recovery,” “I Still Believe,” and Turner and the Sleeping Souls left us with “Be More Kind.”
Frank Turner said all he ever wanted to be was an entertainer. The story is not over and he would be back.
Setlist is here on setlist.fm.
By Carene Lydia Lopez