Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls are back in the US and are better than ever. This summer sees them headlining their own shows stateside and at several festivals in the UK and sharing the stage with Jason Isbell and Flogging Molly. The GATRS caught up with Frank in Louisville, Kentucky, at Mercury Ballroom on May 28th.
Anyone familiar with Frank and the Souls knows that their opening bands are not the kind you want to skip and this show was no exception. The evening began with The Homeless Gospel Choir, which despite its name consists solely of Derek Zanetti from Pittsburgh, PA. For those of you who are familiar with Frank’s friend Jay McAllister aka Beans on Toast, Derek’s music is much in the same vein – protest songs served up with a side of humor and self -deprecation. Derick won over the crowd quickly, and it wasn’t long before he had everyone laughing and nodding in appreciation of his talent.
Next up was 2 Cow Garage from Columbus, Ohio. This band opened for Frank during his fall tour last year and I was glad to see them back. While they are billed as alt-country, don’t let that label fool you. Their songs run the gamut from country to punk and rock and their performance is high-energy from start to finish. The crowd quickly warmed to them as well and their set was very well-received.
Then it was time for Frank and the Sleeping Souls. Coming off of a grueling winter/spring schedule that saw them touring together across Canada and in Eastern Europe and Frank headlining on the raucous Flogging Molly Salty Dog Cruise, you would think that they would be showing signs of wear and tear. But they brought their A-Game to the stage like they always do. As expected, songs from Positive Songs for Negative People featured heavily on the set list and hold up nicely with their older songs. I am a veteran of many Frank Turner shows and I can say that I have never seen him this active on stage. Roaming from one side of the stage to the other, climbing onto the drum risers, and jumping around, his energy started high and stayed that way, even during his acoustic songs and culminated with a dive into the crowd for a round of crowd surfing. If you’ve seen Frank and the Souls, the rules are that if you know the words you have to sing along and dance. This crowd was no exception and sang along and danced from start to finish.
If there is one thing that amazes me about Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, it is the high regard that they have for their fan base. Frank has been known to stop shows to deal with fights and unruly crowd members. He has recently addressed the abuse and harassment that women face at concerts. And unless there are extenuating circumstances that require a change in routine, you will more often than not find Frank and the Souls somewhere outside the venue after the show. Frank not only greets each person with enthusiasm and hugs, but takes the time to talk to each person who waits to see him while signing merchandise or posing for pictures. The process isn’t rushed and he will stay until the last person in line strolls off. If you have been to numerous shows, chances are that they recognize you and are genuinely happy to see you.
Frank and the Souls continue their tour through the US during June with Gogol Bordello opening for them. July finds them back in Europe, and they return to the US late in the month with an appearance at Lollapalooza in Chicago followed by a run with Flogging Molly. Then it’s back to the UK in August where Frank will make a record-breaking ninth appearance at Reading and Leeds with the Sleeping Souls followed by a few more European dates. They are a definite see if they come to your town this year.
For more information:
Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls 2016 Tour Dates: http://frank-turner.com/live-gigs/
2 Cow Garage – https://www.songkick.com/artists/518551-two-cow-garage
The Homeless Gospel Choir – http://thehomelessgospelchoir.com/
For more pictures: http://www.takeapolaroidpicture.com/#!frank-turner—louisville-2016/c1oy9
All photos copyright 2016 Tara Pitts