Review: Zach Leone Photos: Ryan Bowman
On January 20th, 2017, two things happened: Frank Turner rocked The Fillmore in Philadelphia, and Donald J. Trump was elected to the highest power in the United States government. Despite these two vastly different events, they were as closely connected together as punk rock and politics have always been. This not only made for one of the most politically charged, energetic, and cathartic shows of the winter, but also set the tone for what we can anticipate from the Trump Presidency – really great music.
After phenomenal sets from openers Will Varley, Arkells and Murder by Death, Frank approached the stage, and took no time to address the elephant in the room. Beginning with new song “Sand in the Gears”, he confidently pleaded to the crowd “Can’t I just spend the next four years at a punk show?” Immediately, the tone was set. Throughout the opening track, Frank lamented how everything is falling apart and it is easy to wish to turn away and seek solace in “the circle pit”. However, in the end, making a difference is about being outraged and forcing his opinion to the masses. In short, it is a bold move to start a set with a brand new song no one has heard, but to have that song take such a firm stance on a fresh controversy is unflinchingly courageous. The crowd ate it up.
From that moment on, Turner ran through crowd favorites “The Next Storm”, “I Still Believe”, and “Recovery” with no pause to catch his breath. While all three of these tracks could pass as a finale or serve as an encore, he pulled no punches and ripped through them to electrify the audience. It was not until song 11 when he slowed the tempo and launched into radio-friendly “The Way I Tend to Be” to calm the tensions. After this, the Sleeping Souls left the stage and Frank grabbed the acoustic to enter into the quiet/rarities section of the set. Tonight, it was “Vital Signs”, the second track off Turner’s debut Sleep is for the Week, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. While the majority of the crowd was unaware of the words or rhythm, it gave Frank the opportunity to return to his roots and perform without the aid of a backing band. Despite wasting no time to get in all his hits, Frank did not forget to continue his disgust with the events in Washington during the day. In between songs, Frank commented on how America was like the crazy-hot girlfriend: “the U.S. is great, but you guys do some f—cked up stuff sometimes.”
When the Sleeping Souls returned, the band blasted through greatest hits selections as well as singles from their latest Positive Songs for Negative People, before ending with the ever-closer “Photosynthesis.” Notable moments were his inclusion of “Love Ire & Song,” the title track from his second album, a fitting song for the night considering it’s refrain “Darling, just for one day, yeah, we can fight and we can win.”
While many may have sought the concert as an escape from the reality of Inauguration Day, Frank wasn’t prepared to let people forget. This show, in perhaps America’s most historic city, was his way of releasing the frustration that many Americans are currently experiencing, and consoling his audience that there will always be at least one voice in punk music fighting the good fight.
Check out more pictures from the show below.
THE SAND IN THE GEARS
THE NEXT STORM
I STILL BELIEVE
TRY THIS AT HOME
LONG LIVE THE QUEEN
PLAIN SAILING WEATHER
THE WAY I TEND TO BE
Frank – Acoustic Solo
THE BALLAD OF ME AND MY FRIENDS
THE OPENING ACT OF SPRING
IF EVER I STRAY
OUT OF BREATH
LOVE IRE & SONG
FOUR SIMPLE WORDS