Guest writer Greg Ackerman
When James asked me to cover Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls at Emo’s last night I was a bit hesitant. Not because I did not like Turner’s music but because I knew so little about the solo folk rocker who’s been a soloist since 2005, adding his band in 2008. What I did know is the Englishman is quite popular in his home country and has been gaining fans internationally at a fast clip. Turner certainly has a healthy base of fans in Austin as evidenced by the large crowd at Emo’s who stayed late on a Tuesday to see the entire two-hour, 27-song performance.
Turner is known for his high-energy shows and last night was no exception. From the start, the good-looking, dark-haired singer was all over the stage, bouncing from one side to the other. His band was no less active, moving about the stage with their leader. Their performance throughout the evening was polished and professional. He opened the set with two tracks from his latest, Positive Songs for Negative People before delving into more familiar material.
Turner played One Foot Before the Other from 2011’s England Keep My Bones fourth song in and the audience visibly responded by shouting out the chorus and clapping along to the popular song. The middle of the set was reserved for quieter ballads. Turner stood in the center of the stage, alone with his acoustic guitar. He notably covered Townes Van Zandt, singing Pancho and Lefty in a nod to one of the Austin songwriter’s best-known tunes.
Turner only played five songs from his new record, choosing to mix the set up with material from across his catalog. The ploy paid off as most of the crowd hung around until the three-song encore that followed perhaps his best-known song, the set-ending I Still Believe. His band is named for a lyric in the song. See the complete setlist here.
This is War near the set end appeared to be a crowd favorite and served to hype the audience before the headlining Frank Turner appeared. The night was a raucous triple bill that left all who attended smiling happily.