Live Concert Review

Frank Turner

Live In Vancouver (October 20th, 2013)

The Commodore Ballroom - Vancouver, BC




Despite seeing Frank Turner four times in the past, his appearance at The Commodore Ballroom this past Sunday was the first time I’ve seen him with his band The Sleeping Souls. It’s costly bringing a full band over seas when, at its core, your songs are acoustic folk anthems. But that extra cost was worth it, as Turner let his full Million Dead-front man persona roam free with a fuller, stronger sound supporting him.

Still dealing with his back problems, they added on an extra guitarist so Turner could follow the doctor’s order and not hold the instrument every night. It was weird not seeing him behind the six string – and his decision to disobey the medical recommendation to do a cover of The WeakerthansPlea From A Cat Named Virtute in the encore felt right. Yet the lack of instruments also gave him freedom previously out of reach to him. He was energetic, one could even say spastic and he still sounded great; yet I couldn’t help but think that the amount of jumping he was doing would do just as much damage to his back as playing the guitar. Then again, I’m no doctor.

I am, however, a fan of a good live show and that Frank Turner delivered. The addition of The Sleeping Souls built a stronger sonic landscape to work with, making songs like I Still Believe, The Road, I Knew Prufrock Before He Was Famous, Plain Sailing Weather and Glory Hallelujah much heavier and, dare I say, rockier than he could’ve done himself.

It  helped buid up the rousing sing-along bridge of Wessex Boy, a portion made even bigger as Turner stopped the song to teach everyone the words of the song in hopes of creating a spontaneous burst of inspired sing alongs. It was a noble thought and the exact type of speech that a band needs to give to get people to cheer along. Turner just needs to be careful and keep switching it up before the speeches become too obvious.

Because while it was great seeing a simple piano/vocal rendition of Wherefore Art Thou Gene Simmons? I didn’t need to hear the story behind the song for the third time. Yes, we know bands tell the same stories every night, but you hope they switch it up when they come back to the same town to at least keep it seemingly fresh. Yet, the exact opposite could be said for Photosynthesis, where the crowd intuitively sat on the ground to jump and go crazy at the right part of the song. This foresight by the crowd was humuorous and fun, enabling you to ignore the fact that it’s obviously not a new trick.

Still, as the final chords rang out on Four Simple Words, we left the Commodore and all agreed “man, that was one damn good set.”