Instead of making his fans drive for hours across the southwest to see him, Frank Turner took to the road with To Kill a King and The Drowning Men and played their way across the entirety of Arizona, an frenetic road show stopping off in Phoenix (at The Pressroom), Tucson (at The Rialto), and Flagstaff (at The Orpheum, where I finally managed to catch up with him for this review). This route isn’t unheard of for local bands to travel, but a musician from England traverse the desert? It rarely, if ever, happens. And the Arizona fans appreciate this, responding by coming out in droves to catch Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls.
Not about to be outdone in their dedication (or mileage), a large contingent of these fans at the Orpheum had traveled across the state to all three shows with him. With remarkable ease, Turner adjusted his set list to appeal to every soul in attendance, drawing upon favorites from across his vast catalog (5 studio albums, 1 live album, 3 EP’s, and 12 singles, amongst a multitude of others compilations and collaborations) at each show. Between frantic running around with his full band and manning a single microphone for swaths of songs, Turner bantered with the crowd, his English accent branding him a foreigner while the ease of his conversation pulled everyone together as if lifelong friends and family. Stand out songs (half drowned out by the singing of the masses packing The Orpheum) included The Road, Losing Days, and Polaroid Picture. Adding to the intimacy of the show, as well as changing up the set-list for those in their third straight day of attendance, Turner unleashed a handful new material for everyone to preview. These new and unplayed-for-public songs came with stories, my favorites being Little Aphrodite (which was written as a dare for a girl who said he couldn’t write a completely happy song) and Mittens (written after same said girl broke up with him shortly after), and Out Of Breath (which was one of his solo, and had never been played live before).
Bringing the night to a close, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls careened straight into an encore which included both a disco ball and a poetry reading (which, of course, the crowd knew by heart, although I don’t know its name). Playing the grain right off their guitars, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls played a soulful Love Ire & Song, commanded a chanting crowd throughout I Still Believe, and a finished by turning The Orpheum into a dance hall with Four Simple Words. Chords still ringing throughout the hall, they put their instruments down and stepped off stage into the crowd, music and fans becoming one amongst beer, handshakes, and hugs.
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