Article and Photo Credit: Mariko Margetson
There were some die-hards at show 2228 for Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls when they tore it up at Vancouver’s Vogue Theater on September 8. Some who had been to one or more of the other three shows in the Pacific Northwest over the past few days and one loyal couple who had sold their tickets to another big name band in town on the same night.
Those who have seen Frank Turner’s live show understand what all the fuss is about. First of all, the 36-year-old folk-punk rocker from Hampshire and his five agile band mates dedicate themselves 100% to making sure everyone is having an absolute blast while not ruining the fun for those around them. Secondly, you can count on the supporting acts being worth going early to see.
Wisconsin native and all around fascinating human being Trapper Schoepp were the first to take the stage. Schoepp’s repertoire consists of luminous tales of freak storms, small towns, amusement parks, and vintage automobiles. His wry brand of storytelling paints a unique perspective on the classic themes of Americana by amplifying the irony and humor of a situation. The whimsy with which he delivers these snapshots is every bit inquisitive as it is observant. Much like the man himself.
Frank Turner calls Bad Cop/Bad Cop his current favorite band. I’ve been waiting for the right band to describe as ferocious and these pint-sized punk rockers from LA are it. The foursome will be accompanying Turner and the Sleeping Souls for the duration of their North American tour and will no doubt be winning fans over from coast to coast.
Turner is currently touring in support of his latest studio effort, the appropriately titled Be More Kind. The album, which he describes as an “external exploration” was released in May of this year and is largely a reflection about the state of the world today. It’s an album that has a distinctly more pop sound than Turner’s previous work and includes a song called “Make America Great Again”. It’s worth more than just a listen.
The title track of the album was the first song fans were treated to. Alone on the stage, Frank Turner set the tone of the evening and declared for the first time what he really wanted out of the audience, which was for us to keep being nice to each other after the show. Turner played several songs from Be More Kind, including the energetic “1933” and “Blackout” a track that might inspire you to purchase rave paraphernalia.
No one can experience a Frank Turner performance and not walk away being utterly blown away by the Sleeping Souls. Nigel Powell and Matt Nasir are the backbones, the intrepid timekeeper and the sophisticated keyboardist respectively. To the right of Frank Turner Ben Lloyd runs amok while dominating the living crap out of his guitar. To his left, Tarrant Anderson takes bass playing to a whole new dimension of cool. I have it on good authority that at least one fan has a pretty serious man-crush on Mr. Anderson.
With a songbook that is seven albums deep, the night was full of old favorites, too. It’s hard to pick a highlight when the elements of the show that make it great are the things that Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls deliver every single time. It’s the ability to intertwine frenetic energy with a feeling of being connected.
I was fortunate enough to chat with Frank Turner last time he was in town and I distinctly remember how passionate he was about what punk rock meant to him. He described it as being an ideology where one had “the choice to be a certain type of person and define yourself.” Frank Turner’s evolution is evident in his body of work. If the world is unsure of what to make of the ridiculous time and place we find ourselves, at least we know what we can do to make it better. Be More Kind.