Frank Turner Orlando Concert Review
Among American rock fans, he’s probably the most under-appreciated musician on the planet, but this talented artist is gaining passionate new fans at a tremendous pace. He’s part folk rock troubadour and part classic rocker. Mix in a healthy dose of punk, and you get a unique mix of music and one hell of an entertainer.
Frank Turner cut his teeth as the hardcore punk vocalist in the band Million Dead; abruptly evolved into a folk singer, before ultimately settling into his niche as a versatile rock front man. On Saturday night, he returned to Orlando to a packed house at The Beacham. It didn’t take long to get the crowd roiling as he kicked into “Photosynthesis,” with a clear synopsis of what we were all in for: “Now I’ll play and you sing, the perfect way for an evening to begin… I won’t sit down, I won’t shut up, but most of all I won’t grow up.” The party was on.
Uncharacteristically, Turner took the stage without his omnipresent acoustic guitar. He shared that after recently badly hurting his back, he was directed to cancel his tour, but chose instead to bring a new guitarist on tour and eschew the guitar. He introduced his ‘replacement’ an Irish bloke (whose name I missed) who learned the songs five minutes before they went on tour; and then showed his “Rocky Horror-esque” back brace and shared “We’re still going to have a rocking show,” before kicking into “Losing Days.”
Turner invited the crowd to get involved and open their mouths early in the show and they willingly complied, offering rousing accompaniment on “Reasons Not To Be an Idiot” and “Wessex Boy” as well as two tracks from his fantastic 2013 album Tape Deck Heart: “Plain Sailing Weather” and “Losing Days.” (See our album review here)
His band, The Sleeping Souls is the total opposite. They flew around the stage sounding perfect throughout, and appeared to be having a blast the entire time. During the hour and forty minute set, Frank and his band mates interacted with the crowd constantly, with the front man exuding his abundant charisma and charm throughout.
During a humorous interlude, Turner shared interesting facts about Orlando, as prepared by his tour manager – fun stuff. He referenced prior trips to the city throughout the night including his last visit which brought him next door to The Social. He also threw in some nice references to the Central Florida area; referencing “the best record store on the planet, Park Avenue Records,” the whiskey bar across the street (Elixir?), and worked The Social into the “I Am Disappeared” lyrics; all nice touches.
As an interesting anecdote, Turner pointed out a nice homemade Tape Deck Heart flag flowing form the rafters, noting that fans have arranged for it to be displayed in every venue since their stop in Cleveland over a month ago.
Turner had the crowd in the palm of his hand all night, the majority of whom had never seen him before, but reacted to his every command and movement. As the night drew to a close, the pace was ratcheted up to a fever pitch for a killer version of “Recovery.” He then masterfully slowed things down for the unaccompanied, tender “Broken Piano,” which ended the main set.
He returned to the stage solo and for the first time in the evening, slung the acoustic guitar over his shoulder. He shared with the crowd his preference to play a different song in tribute to his locale that evening. Thankfully, he skipped the Orlando bands, instead heading 100 miles to the North to honor The Allman Brothers with a slick rendition of “Rambling Man.”
Turner thanked the crowd and offered one more song, before kicking into the near perfect closer, “I Still Believe,” with The Sleeping Souls at his side “Now who’d have thought that after all, Something as simple as rock ‘n’ roll would save us all. And who’d have thought that after all, it was rock ‘n’ roll.” It seemed the perfect ending to what is likely the show of the year, until…
…he grabbed the mic and began the rollicking roller-coaster ride that is “Four Simple Words.” The song starts with a stark vocal and evolves into a Sleeping Souls punk rock party. “I want to dance, I want to dance. I want lust and love and a smattering of romance. But I’m no good at dancing, yet I have to do something. Tonight I’m going to play it straight, I’m going to take my chance, I want to dance.” And we did, deep into the cool Orlando evening.