Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, with Skinny Lister & Beans on Toast
House of Blues; Boston, MA // September 25th, 2015.
Written by Eric Riley.
Despite the commonness of the names, there’s only one Frank Turner. (Well, I’m sure there are plenty of Frank Turners, but there’s only one that matters.) ((Actually, that sounds really mean to any other Frank Turners out there, who I’m sure are fine, upstanding men. I think you get the point I’m getting at, yes?))
The weekend of the 25th was very busy for me. The span of four days contained three bus rides, two full days at a music festival, and one night at the House of Blues, all connected by a handful of rides on the T throughout Boston and with enough Diet Coke to probably be concerned over. If this sounds like complaining, I apologize – each minute was wild from start to finish, and Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls kicked it off in style.
A pair of Xtra Mile labelmates helped lead off the night, with Jay McAllister AKA Beans On Toast taking the stage first. Armed with songs written about everything from love and loss and heartbreak to the growing industry of farm-raised chickens to how terrible the South is, McAllister handled it all with a bit of charm, some fun banter, and a lot of love for what he does.
Next, London six-piece Skinny Lister made their way back to Boston, following up after an opening slot for Dropkick Murphys on St. Patrick’s Day last March. Though I was only able to catch the tail-end of their set last time around, I knew it was something I was disappointed about missing – Lorna Thomas kicking and dancing around stage, Michael Camino lifting and swinging a double bass over his head, the half-dozen members passing around an old clay jug. And that was only the last five minutes. This time around, it was the same story, but getting to check out the full performance made it much better, watching the performance grow into the rambunctious party rather than just walking in on the end of it.
With another House of Blues show the next night, as well as an in-store at Newbury Comics Sunday afternoon, Turner would have a few chances to leave another mark on Boston. Sure, there were still two more shows to go, but why waste a perfectly good Friday night?
The night started with a varied trio of songs – the racing “Get Better,” followed by “If Ever I Stray” and a full-band version of “Long Live the Queen,” which the band seems to favor more lately as opposed to the original version. It’s always interesting to see them transform the heartwrenching acoustic ballad into a fast, electric number, and though they scrap the unplugged guitars, the passion and intensity is the same, with Turner ending the song with his eyes nestled inside the inner corner of his elbow and bassist Tarrant Anderson kneeling on the ground, holding his bass upright and resting his forehead against the headstock.
Plenty of favorites, both new and old, made their way into the setlist: “Plain Sailing Weather,” “I Am Disappeared,” and “Mittens” brought roars of applause, as “Polaroid Picture,” “Glory Hallelujah,” and closer “I Still Believe” grew into full-room singalongs. In an effort to always keep the room’s energy high, Turner brought McAllister to the stage to lead the exercise routine during “Recovery,” which called for star-jumps (which are apparently what English people call jumping jacks, because that’s adorable) during the choruses. Ending the second encore on a high note, “Four Simple Words” brought the night to an end by showing respect to the music and the scene that makes everything possible.
After 1,733 shows (and yes, they keep track), how do you make Number 1,734 special? A setlist of songs from every record, a sold-out venue, and a chance to do it all again the next night seems like a promising formula. Being one of the most consistent live acts around doesn’t hurt, either. This was my fifth or sixth time seeing Frank Turner perform, and I’m doing what I do after any other time – just sitting and waiting until the next time I get to.
If Ever I Stray
Long Live The Queen
Out of Breath
I Am Disappeared
The Opening Act of Spring
The Ballad of Me and My Friends
Love Ire & Song
Plain Sailing Weather
Reasons Not To Be An Idiot
The Next Storm
I Still Believe
The Next Storm
I Still Believe
The Angel Islington
The Way I Tend to Be
Try This At Home
Four Simple Words