The British invasion continues. Last week it was the Kaiser Chiefs, before that, Elbow and now Frank Turner. All three acts are capable of filling much larger venues than what they played here in Auckland. Turner recently headlined at London’s Wembley Arena, so seeing him at the Kings Arms tavern was a treat for local fans.
First up were The Broadsides. Armed with double bass, banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitars and drums, they kicked up quite a ruckus and their blend of old time country, blues and gospel was the perfect opener…they were fantastic.
Frank Turner and his band The Sleeping Souls hit the stage at 10pm with Eulogy, the first song on their latest album, England Keep My Bones. From there it was straight in to Try This At Home and If Ever I Stray. The crowd was right into it, singing along from the start.
That’s what a Frank Turner show is all about, singing along, drinking, raising your glass in the air and having a good old shout.
Shouting is also what Frank Turner is all about. Subtlety is not his strong point, lyrically or vocally. He sings at the top of his lungs from the start and then, gets louder as needed. The effect is like reading a huge email or text that is typed all in caps.
That said, the crowd had a good time singing along to their favourites. Turner injected three new songs into the set, one called Time Machine, about a, umm, time machine, one called Where For Art Thou, Gene Simmons, a relatively low-key and somewhat poignant number that was difficult to hear over the chatting crowd and Forcible Words, based on Turner’s dislike of musicals (a sentiment I share with him).
Turner’s band consists of drummer Nigel Powell, guitarist Ben Lloyd, keyboard player Matt Nasir and bass player Tarrant Anderson. All played well but I must comment on Anderson’s stage posing…he nailed every bass playing cliché in the book…huge, exaggerated strokes on the strings, raising his instrument up to his chin, pointing it at the crowd like a weapon, hitting the top of it with his fist and flipping it from time to time. Now I enjoy a bit of showboating as much as the next person, but Anderson looked downright silly at times. Those moves might work in a big arena, but not in a place as small as the Kings Arms.
The 20-song regular set ended with a cover of Queen’s Somebody To Love. Turner was clearly enjoying himself as he ripped through the song, but again, when he tried to reach those high notes, he went for more volume rather than accuracy.
The encore ended with Photosynthesis, with its catchy sing-along chorus of, “I won’t sit down and I won’t shut up and most of all I won’t grow up”.
It looked to me like the crowd enjoyed themselves. Turner’s enthusiasm and energy is certainly impressive and it’s clear that he is passionate about what he is singing about which is mostly the joys of rock & roll and living a meaningful live. While I share his feelings, I must say that his performance still left me un-moved. I’m not sure what it is, maybe there’s a hint of arrogance or entitlement that runs through his work, but something didn’t quite connect with me.
Maybe Turner could take a lesson from The Broadsides and add some dynamics to his performance. It felt like he was turned up to “11” during the entire set, and I felt as though I had been shouted at for 90 minutes when it was over.
Click here to view a gallery of photos shot but Michael Flynn:
Frank Turner set list:
- Try This At Home
- If Ever I Stray
- Reasons Not To Be An Idiot
- Glory Hallelujah
- Wessex Boy
- I Am Disappeared
- Love Ire And Song
- Time Machine
- The Real Damage
- Where For Art Thou, Gene Simmons
- I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
- Sons Of Liberty
- Long Live The Queen
- Peggy sang The Blues
- Four Simple Words
- The Road
- I Still Believe
- Somebody To Love
- The Ballad Of Me And My Friends