Frank Turner has had a bit of a mutual love affair with the greater Boston area over the last handful of years. While his first show inside the city limits didn’t occur until February 2010 – roughly six years after his first-ever show as a solo performer and three years after his first US show which happened in San Antonio of all places – the years since have found the Wessex boy turning Boston into his North American home, with area’s bars and clubs and storage lockups serving as a virtual basecamp for his touring operation on this side of the Atlantic. There’s been obvious support from the likes of local heroes Dropkick Murphys over the years – including lengthy tours both Stateside and abroad – but Turner and his band, the Sleeping Souls, have also garnered a fair amount of radio play from the city’s holdover alternative and independent stations and won over crowds the old fashioned way: by playing their asses off.
Traditionally speaking, Boston, you see, prefers its musicians and its athletes to share a few overlapping characteristics. If you’re viewed a tough, scrappy, hard-worker who may not necessarily have been born with the most virtuosic capabilities but through blood, sweat and tears have carved out a spot for yourself, you’ll do alright here. (Not having an abundance of melanin helps as well, but that’s a conversation for another time and platform.) And so it was a little confusing to see only a couple of Boston dates on the initial list of North American dates in support of Turner’s new album, Be More Kind. Both dates were at Royale, a thousand-ish capacity club that is a great venue, however it’s much smaller than venues like House of Blues and, of course, the Agganis Areana that Turner has headlined in past runs through the city. And while Lucero and The Menzingers were listed as openers for the bulk of the month-long tour, neither were slated to appear in Boston. Hi-jinks, it seemed, were afoot. Within a few days, however, a bigger picture appeared. Tickets to the first two sold out in mere moments, and were quickly joined by two more shows, which also sold out quickly, and finally by two more shows, all without openers announced, meaning that Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls would be headlining the same venue six times in a week. All of a sudden, we had ourselves a big deal on our hands.
Dying Scene have had the privilege of covering a bunch of Frank Turner shows over the years, and night four of this six-night run (which turned into a seven-night run as Turner played a benefit show for the Claddagh Fund at one of Dropkick Murphys’ founder Ken Casey’s new dining establishments on July 3rd) marked yours truly’s seventh time shooting Turner locally at venues ranging from a record store to a college hockey arena to a giant outdoor festival, and while it’s generally hyperbole state that a show was the best of a particular bunch, I’ll be damned if this one wasn’t right up there. The varied setlist covered all seven of Turner’s full-length studio albums (pretty sure I’d never heard “Journey Of The Magi” off 2009’s Poetry Of The Deed live before) as well as the 2010 Rock & Roll EP (definitely sure I’d never heard “Pass It Along” live before). Turner is able to change at a moments notice from being the solo, folk-punk troubadour persona that has long been his bread and butter, to the consummate showman, singing and dancing in non-stop, high-energy fashion, including a lap around the entire venue balcony during the show-closing “Four Simple Words.” Hell, he even got opener Dave Hause to play along, as the latter crowd-surfed his way around the venue as though it were a punk rock baseball diamond during fan favorite “If Ever I Stray” (see the last photo above for proof).
Oh and as was mentioned briefly above, Dave Hause and his band, The Mermaid, were added as opener to this show after the sell-out had been announced (other shows featured support spots from some combination of Speedy Ortiz, The Homeless Gospel Choir, Jeff Rosenstock, Restorations, Tim Barry, Hotelier, War On Women, Kevin Devine and Trapper Schoepp, making each of the six shows a truly unique experience). Hause and his brother/musical counterpart Tim were in town for a stripped down show at Boston’s new City Winery establishment during the altter stages of their tour with Northcote earlier this month. While we enjoyed the hell out of that experience, the elder Hause is masterful at commanding an audience and a full band at a sweaty punk rock show, and this particular band has turned itself into quite a force that’s able to seemingly effortlessly pull off the myriad sounds that have been woven into the Dave Hause solo catalog – yes, that’s Kayleigh Goldsworthy on melodica above – particularly on its latest entry, last year’s Bury Me In Philly. It was a disorientingly early set – Royale turns into a dance club at 10pm, prompting a hard 9:30 curfew, but the dynamic Hause fired the crowd up the way few others can. (Plus, his merch girl was pretty cute!)
Head below to see our full photo gallery from the evening.