Sunday, September 15, 2013

Save my soul with Rock 'n' Roll - Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls in Munich

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

Never the "Save my soul with Rock 'n' Roll" name for my series of concert reviews would fit better than for this night when Frank Turner blasted right at the very beginning "I Still Believe" into the happy, immediatly dancing and singing along crowd. A song that summarizes perfectly what this is all about:

I still believe
Hear ye, hear ye, friends and Romans, countrymen. 
Hear ye, hear ye, punks and skins and journeymen 
Hear ye, hear ye, my sisters and my brethren. 
The time is coming near. 

Come ye, come ye, to soulless corporate circus tops. 
Come ye, come ye, to toilet circuit touring snobs. 
Come ye, come ye, to bedrooms, bars and bunker squats. 
The sound is ringing clear. 

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. 

Hear ye, hear ye, now anybody could take this stage. 
Hear ye, hear ye, and make miracles for minimum wage. 
Hear ye, hear ye, these folk songs for the modern age, 
Will hold us in their arms. 

Right here, right now, Elvis brings his children home. 
Right here, right now, you never have to feel alone. 
Right here, right now, teenage kicks and gramophones. 
We hold them in our hearts. 

Now who'd have thought that after all, 
Something as simple as rock 'n' roll would save us all. 
Now who'd have thought that after all, it was rock 'n' roll. 

And I still believe (I still believe) in the saints. 
Yeah, in Jerry Lee and in Johnny and all the greats. 
And I still believe (I still believe) in the sound, 
That has the power to raise a temple and tear it down. 

And I still believe (I still believe) in the need, 
For guitars and drums and desperate poetry. 
And I still believe (I still believe) that everyone, 
Can find a song for every time they've lost and every time they've won. 

So just remember folks we not just saving lives, we're saving souls, 
And we're having fun. 

And I still believe. 

Now who'd have thought that after all, 
Something as simple as rock 'n' roll would save us all. 
Now who'd have thought that after all, 
Something so simple, something so small. 
Who'd have thought, that after all it's rock 'n' roll

But let's wind back the tape to the beginning of the night. It started with a bit of a bummer, because I OF COURSE left home much later than planned at 6.45 pm. Doors where at 8 pm and I had roughly a 30 min trip going to the venue. Since I wanted to go front row(ish) I was really afraid that I would be too late, but it turned out just fine. The queue wasn't long and I settled without issues and even a drink in my hand in the 2nd row with some friendly people around me and most importantly fairly short people in between me and the barrier. That's always very important when you are just Hobbit sized like me. 

John Allen
The show was supposed to start at 8.45 pm with the first of 2 support acts, singer & songwriter John Allen from Hamburg. There was quite some "meh" all along ... 8 pm doors (from local organization - not the bands) and 2 supports in the middle of the week would make for a very late show - not a good situation especially for the many people around who had quite a drive to Munich for the gig.

So to be honest when the light went out as scheduled and John Allen entered the stage I did not even really look. I was busy doing concert probability calculations like this: If I leave now to go to the rest room, how big is my statistical chance to get my 2nd row location back and how would another stop at the bar on the way back influence this equatation? (Facing the fact that the venue was pratically sold out the result was in very small numbers and I never went.)
But the math doing stopped right the next moment when John raised his soulful voice. A hearable "Ohhhhhh!" went through the venue and the nasty chatter that usually lays over the music of a support band - especially if it is only one guy with an acoustic guitar - died down immediatly. What followed was a beautiful, emotional folk rock set accompanied by more and more applause. I have seldom experienced in 20 years of going out to shows that an unknown support was  able to draw that much attention and appreciation. Great job! 

Also pretty stunning was the story how John landed his job: As a normal fan he attended a Frank Turner show a couple of months ago in Hamburg and he brought his guitar along to make the queuing time more fun for himself and his friends. When Frank heard him singing he went out and joined for a couple of songs (which is dead cool alone) and ended up with promising John after the show that they "would do something together". John - like we all would be - was "Yeah, sure, but thanks for making my day!" .... BUT a few weeks and emails later all was set and now John is indeed on tour with Frank Turner. And now tell me that dreams cannot come true! It also made my respect for Frank Turner growing to a sky high level. Sticking so much to your word is quite a thing.

Lucero & Frank Turner
Next up were Lucero from Memphis, Tennessee, who exactly look and sound like you would expect from a "dirty", blues and rock band from Memphis. But no problem with me ... they were running in open doors with that good ol' Crowehead here. While their set did not have the suprised "OH!" effect of John Allen it was a lot of fun and some people in the audience were clearly there for the Southern boys and enjoyed themselves and the music even more.
After a couple of songs I spotted Frank Turner watching Lucero from the side of the stage and a little while later he would even join in for a song. 

In general I have to say that both support acts were fantastic and I WISH more artists would choose their support bands that carefully and make sure the quality is right and that the bands a) put the audience in the right mood and b) really benefit from getting more known to an appreciative crowd. Way too often the support acts are quite a pain and the only thing that happens are said trips to the restrooms or whiny ramblings how standing through the support show does nothing to you than causing back pain and making you super tired before the real show even starts. 

Frank Turner
Then it was time for the man of the night - Mr. Frank Turner!
Like mentioned in the beginning Frank and The Sleeping Souls did not exactly opt for a slow start and directly kicked off with the hymnic "I Still Believe" and the crowd immediatly went mental - jumping and dancing and singing along. 

We were off for a good start although I have to say that I am - being no teenager anymore - suffered quite a bit from the punk rock attitude of the kiddos who were pogo dancing behind me. Call me a party pooper, but I as much as I am all in for having fun and going with the music, I hate when your fun limits mine and in this case I got beaten in the back so hard and so many time that it was not funny any longer. If I would not have had the barrier in tight grip I might have lost my balance more than once. I also hate when I cannot clap or dance, because .... well I have to hold on to the barrier with both hands to keep upright. I am also grateful for the security guard right in front of me, who picked up all the crowdsurfers and carefully lifted them over my head without hitting me. He saved my night! 

Frank Turner did not play guitar himself due to the back injury he suffered a while ago. He should have cancelled the whole tour following strong medical advice but ended up only calling off a couple of festivals but touring anyway. Playing the guitar is not possible at the moment and when he did for a single song anyway you could see why: the poor guy can barely lift his arms up enough to put the strap over the shoulder without a very visible expression of intense pain on his face - an expression I could see a couple of times that night and that had me really worried. I hope Frank is not overdoing it - I am pretty sure that all this dancing and jumping around is also not what the doctor ordered.

Frank Turner
The setlist (see below) was a very fine mix of old and new, fast and slow, party and emotion. Since I am big fan of the recent record "Tape Deck Heart" my personal highlights were the belter "Plain Sailing Weather" and the wonderful and heartbreaking song "The Way I Tend To Be".
Besides the nasty pushes into my back I have to also praise the audience for singing along and making party. Munich crowds can be really lame - this one clearly was not. 

The main set ended with a stunningly beautiful performance of "Borken Piano" - a song that did not catch my attention too much on the record, but turned out to be an absolute highlight performed live.

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls - Broken Piano (Also: BUBBLES)

The four songs of the encore included the fun tune "Four Simple Words" with me holding the barrier tightly one more time because it errupts after a slow start into a quite wild dance (the perks of knowing the songs pretty well - you can brace yourself) and finished with the sing along "Photosynthesis".  I love the lyrics of this song so much, because they quite hit the nail


Well I guess I should confess that I am starting to get old
All the latest music fads all passed me by and left me cold
All the kids are talking slang I won't pretend to understand
All my friends are getting married, mortagages and pension plans
And it's obvious my angry adolescent days are done
And I'm happy and I'm settled in the person I've become
But that doesn't mean I'm settled up and sitting out the game
Time may change a lot but some things may stay the same

And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I yeah I won't grow up

Oh maturity's a wrapped up package deal so it seems
And ditching teenage fantasy means ditching all your dreams
All your friends and peers and family solemnly tell you you will
Have to grow up be an adult yeah be bored and unfulfilled
Oh when no ones yet explained to me exactly what's so great
About slaving 50 years away on something that you hate
Look I'm meekly shuffling down the path of mediocrity
Well if that's your road then take it but it's not the road for me

And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I yeah I won't grow up
And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I will not grow up

And if all you ever do with your life
Is photosynthesize
Then you deserve every hour of these sleepless nights
That you waste wondering when you're gonna die

Now I'll play and you sing
The perfect way for the evening to begin
Now I'll play and you sing
The perfect way for the evening to begin

And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all yeah I won't grow up
And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all I will not grow up

It was so much fun and as usual I wish I could rewind the clock and do it all again. Come back soon, Frank, but ... recover that back first, please! We want to have you touring and singing and rocking for a lot longer!

Honorary note: I used my musician LugPlugs that night and I loved it so much. No show ever is mixed for the front row and usually you suffer there quite a lot from too much noise and painfully peaking high notes, but through my LugPlugs the sound was amazing. That is a clear double win: protected hearing and better sound! 

The setlist:
The only 2 songs I would have loved to see on here but he did not play were "Tattoos" and Frank Turner's version of Biffy Clyro's "Who's Got A Match".

Big thanks to The Sleeping Souls for handing a set list straight to me after the show. Much appreciated!!!

1 comment:

  1. Great Review!

    Lucero fand ich nicht ganz so toll, aber man merkt trotzdem, dass die Vorbands handverlesen waren. So macht es Spaß!