19 October 2013
Wonder Ballroom | Portland, Oregon
By Meghan Kearney
Frank Turner. What is there to say about Frank Turner? Well, the certain thing is that you don’t just go to the Frank Turner show. You are the Frank Turner show. This was inherently evident this past Saturday as Frank and The Sleeping Souls took the stage at Portland’s Wonder Ballroom. Dressed in white button ups and black slacks, these five Englishmen might as well have been on the dance floor and let the crowd run the show. Though this sounds disparaging, if you’ve been to a Frank Turner show, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Right at the get-go, the opening track “I Still Believe” wasted no time getting the crowd jumping, fisting the air, clapping. “Hear ye, hear ye” beckoned Frank, almost positively addressing the crowd that he and his Souls were surely about to save ours. Though this tour was promoting his newest record Tape Deck Heart, Frank did the unthinkable, opening up with three oldies, including “If I Ever Stray,” and “Try This At Home” before breaking into the new.
The opening vocals of “Plain Sailing Weather” sent the crowd to cheers, all mouths singing along. As the song came to its final breakdown, drums pounded through the crowd while Frank belted out the final painful words of the song. Somewhere in the crowd, a woman screamed “Wessex Boy!” just as the room fell silent. Within seconds Frank announced “this song’s called Wessex Boy” and threw his hands up in the air to clap, as the crowd joined. Was he subtly taking requests? Or did he somehow meld into the minds and spirits of the crowd, as they reciprocated. As he continued on, the whole song’s meaning changed. This song was no longer about Wessex, it was about Portland, and here – Frank was home.
There was something about his charm and the energy of the Sleeping Souls that told the crowd they never wanted to leave us. “Seattle was pretty good at singing along last night, but we think you guys can do better.” Playful boos rang throughout the crowd. Frank laughed. “This is where we find out who hates who. Now – who knows how to do a jumping jack?” A short aerobics training session later, Frank casually transitioned into “blacking in and out in a strange flat in East London” to kick off the jumping-jack-demanding favorite “Recovery.” Next, the heart wrenching “Broken Piano” began, with Frank’s high and low mix of vocals, an empathetic sadness calmed the crowd down. Taking us just low enough to make the explosion into Nigel Powell’s murderous drumming seem like flying.
An encore included the most fabulous sing-a-longs of Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” a proper screaming version of Photosynthesis, and a final dance party closer of “Four Simple Words.” The whole show felt like a veteran punk rock show but with so much charm and happiness. It was an irony that only Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls could create. The happiness, the energy, the very feeling of being a sleeping soul – not just watching one.
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Missed the show? Good news – Frank is coming right back to see us for the KINK FM Jingle Bell Jam on December 6th at the Roseland Theater with The Wild Feathers and The Head & the Heart. Tickets go on pre-sale Thursday morning for KINK community members, Friday for general public – so get yours here!