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"Onwards and upwards, right, Mary?" Frank Turner At Calvin Theatre Northampton MA November 24th 2013

Cuddling up in the cold with my idol


In the six years my two best friends and I have known each other, we’ve never been able to completely agree on one musician that we all love, so we’d never been to a gig together.  That all changed as soon as we heard that Frank Turner was playing the Calvin in Northampton.  All of us being massive fans caused us to go out on a school night and cause a ruckus.

First off, I had seats, not general admission.  That didn’t matter because I ended up in the pit anyway cos there was no one to stop me.  The crowd was filling up and we were all waiting for Frank.  Everyone was talking to one another, and we all made a few friends.  Everyone was exceptionally kind and when the clock struck 9, the Hampshire native graced us all with his presence, along with that of the Sleeping Souls, his band.

He opened up with “Photosynthesis”, and everyone automatically knew the words.  Starting with the count, we all jumped into an immediate dance party- no pushing, no crowdsurfing, just entirely painless wild flailing with reckless abandon.  It was beautiful.  “Won’t sit down, won’t shut up, and most of all, I will not grow up” resonated throughout the tiny theatre and stuck.  It’s the perfect beginning to a show because of the line, “I’ll play and you sing- the perfect way for the evening to begin.”  And oh my it was.

Frankie emotional






























His “Peggy Sang The Blues” performance was stunning.  It’s a more uplifting ballad and “It doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you go,” was a lyric that I saw caused a lot of people in the pit to truly start listening, instead of dancing crazily.  He certainly converted a few fans with that one.  Shifting into “Losing Days” seamlessly also caused some tears, specifically when the man uttered, “I used to think that I would never live past twenty five and when you think like that each day, it’s a gift if you survive.”  Knowing that he’s struggled and is just so incredibly human was surreal.

When he performed, “Glory Hallelujah”, it was nearly like we were a little cult, which Frank stated later that we weren’t and that, “You can leave at any time.”  However, the group clapping and collective vocals provided a beautiful moment of both musical appreciation, punk rock anarchy, and self expression.

“Reasons Not To Be An Idiot” and “The Way I Tend To Be” are definitely tearjerkers and I caught a few manly beardy men getting a bit sentimental in the crowd; music truly was the great equalizer here.  It was a community and the passion from the crowd held true to the fact that Frank is not only a brilliant musician, but he can write about what we all experience in the most eloquent way.

He played “The Ballad of Me and My Friends”, which was totally unexpected.  It’s the perfect crowd pleaser because pretty much even just a casual fan knows the group vocals of, “We’re definitely going to hell but we’ll have all the best stories to tell,” and the stripped down feel of this  was flawless.

There was a point that an extremely intoxicated member of the crowd started a fight, to which the band stopped, got them out, and made sure everyone was safe.  “People come to a show to forget all the awful things in the world, and you don’t have to bring it in here.”  Well said, Frank.

I had gotten separated from my group of friends due to crowd surfers and Frank kneeling in the crowd, which was a bummer.  As Frank launched into, “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous”, a song that all of us sing all the time, I saw my friend’s hand and he pulled me to the group.  We all had our arms around each other, were directly in front of Frank at his mic in the middle of the crowd, and screamed the lyrics.  It felt like a freakin’ movie.  “Life is about love, last minutes, and lost evenings, about fire in our bellies and about furtive little feelings,” was a line in which we all got a little choked up.  It was wonderful.

“Long Live The Queen” is a pretty sad tune about Frank’s friend passing, but live, it was a celebration of life.  Everyone was singing the words to each other, even strangers, and I danced with many of them.  We all were embracing the, “You’ll live to dance another day, just now you have to dance for the two of us,” and with a few tears dropping here and there, we felt pleasantly mortal.

He closed with “Broken Piano”, which was timid and quite and passionate and damn the man can sing.  No one was clapping along, and no one was singing too loud.  It felt so intimate and soft and sweet, that we all knew that it wasn’t the end.

four more simple words





























After some chanting, the band came on stage once more.  Of course, he played “I Still Believe”, and everyone lost it.  There was so much energy that it was no longer dancing, it was thrashing and passionate movement.  It was incredible.  However, nothing beat the last song of all.

“Four Simple Words” is his most famous tune, I’d say.  It’s the song that got my friends and I into him in the first place.  In that moment, when he sang the first words, the world faded around us.  It was an automatic response to turn to the person next to you and begin a dance, no matter how small the space you were in.  When the song kicked in, there was a pit and though it was fast and intense, no one really got hurt.  We were all careful.  It was full of yelling the lyrics and laughing and bro hugs, and it was fantastic.

Shaking and giddy, my friends and I decided we weren’t going home until we met Frank.  We stood out by his tour bus along with a few others, and ended up meeting the two openers, along with every member of the Sleeping Souls.  Now we just needed the man himself. We sang his songs and danced around to stay warm, and after an eternity, he came outside.

I spoke to him first.  I told him how happy his music makes me, and how his writing about difficult things people deal with has helped me more than I can express.  I’ll never forget how he pulled me in for a hug and said, “Onwards and upwards, right, Mary?”  I couldn’t help but cry a little bit, but it didn’t matter, because I was with my idol, my hero, and my best friends.

“But if you’re all about the destination, then take a fucking flight.  We’re going nowhere slowly, but we’re seeing all the sights.  And we’re definitely going to hell, but we’ll have all the best stories to tell.”

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