with Andrew Jackson Jihad and Into It. Over It
The Social, Orlando, FL • September 27, 2011
Not to imply that I enjoy the hot, sweaty confines of a sold-out show at The Social, but it was good to see the sidewalk marquee emblazoned with the words, “Sold Out, Son!” as I stepped up to will call.
Frank Turner has been through these parts a half-dozen times in the last couple of years — not bad for a guy from England — but this was his first headlining gig in the town that loves to welcome him. Rightly so, Orlando showed up in spades to have more than just an opener-length set by the under-appreciated Frank Turner.
The acoustic stylings of Into It. Over It were ending as I squeezed my way in, followed swiftly by two-man band Andrew Jackson Jihad. The fact that I had my face smashed against my camera for the first couple of songs allowed me to enjoy their energy and the audience’s unexpectedly heartfelt response to it, but once the camera got bagged and I was able to listen to the lyrics, any enjoyment I may have felt was gone like yesterday’s deodorant.
Song after depressing song, guitarist/vocalist/lyricist Sean Bonnette sang like the world was not only going to end tomorrow, but that it should. This guy could make MIckey Mouse wanna kill himself — his words are that hopeless.
There’s a rapist and a Nazi living in our tiny hearts/ Child pornographers and cannibals, and politicians too/ there’s someone in your head waiting to fucking strangle you — from “People II: The Reckoning”
I made your brother bleed/ I made your father scream/ And I made your mother say those things she said to me …. ‘take my pride, take my life, take my body’… And I continued without mercy — from “Bad Bad Things”
And if 15 songs about how horrible the world is, for a self professed “Straight White Male in America” (another song), they further rose up my shitlist by dragging The Smiths, Simon & Garfunkel, and Fleetwood Mac into their gloom and doom with snippets of covers. There’s a vast ocean of difference between great artists who wrote great songs, and a guy scream-singing lyrics intended to provoke. Unfortunately, the room did not appear to see the difference and fueled the volume by singing along, joyously, to every dark and disturbing word.
After this buzz-killing display, Frank Turner was a much needed injection of solid songwriting and style. So excited were some, that a mild mosh pit even picked up — for Frank Turner! It’s solid pub-fueled rock ‘n’ roll, and some of his tunes rock a faster pace, but a pit?! That’s like cake at a Weight Watchers’ meeting — it doesn’t fit, but everyone wants a slice.
A slow and somber minute’s worth of “Eulogy” collapsed into the grab an instrument and start a band celebratory romp “Try This at Home,” kick starting Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls’ set. Despite some internal band issues among the Sleeping Souls (did anyone else notice the glares the keyboardist was throwing at the sound guy and at the poor drummer?!), the backing band provided a bouncy and heated backdrop to Turner’s odes to life, love, and music.
There’s a lesson to be learned here, for folksingers or those who think a guitar is always enough: few of you are strong enough to captivate a room with merely your voice and six strings. Turner could do it — I’ve seen him do it — and even he brought a band for his big headlining US tour.
Out in support of his newest and best release to date, England Keep My Bones, “Peggy Sang the Blues,” “If Ever I Stray” and “I Still Believe” were given prime billing on the setlist and were met with much-deserved appreciation from the crowd. “Glory Hallelujah,” with its church organ and criticism of organized religion, was transcendant with a room full of clapping hands.
“Oldies” — if you can call three-year-old songs that — like “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous,” “Photosynthesis,” and “The Ballad of Me and My Friends” were present and accounted for, keeping seasoned fans appeased, but the truly golden moment came in the form of a cover of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” Anyone who can take on Queen and not fall flat on his face deserves a jolly good cheer, and man! Did the crowd cheer!!!
Gallery of live shots from this show: Frank Turner •.
Frank Turner: www.frank-turner.com