There’s something about seeing Frank Turner perform. He isn’t just a guy who goes up on stage, plays a few songs, and leaves. for his 1,561st show, Frank played as if he could play another 1,561 more. He can work a crowd and bring it together like no one I have ever seen.
The night started outside the Orpheum Theater in Flagstaff, Arizona just before the sun went down. For such a small college town, there were quite a lot of people who came out to see the man from a small village in England.
While the doors opened later than usual, the first openers jumped on stage not waiting a single second to begin their first song. Most of the people I had spoken to had never heard of To Kill A King. The general consensus was they were probably just some local band used as a time filler. In actually Frank actually found To Kill A King out in Leeds, England and had brought them with him to play a few shows in America. To Kill A King was an extremely enjoyable and unexpected opening. The entire band came out and performed as if they were the main attraction. The indie-folk group were a great compliment to Frank Turner and The Drowning Men.
Beginning their set with the evenly paced “Bloody Shirt”, these guys knew exactly where they were going with their performance. Each song grew and grew in intensity until the abrupt stop in their peak to thank Frank Turner (Who was probably “at them bars nearby getting ready for the show”). With that, they ended their set with some real intensity, and left the stage almost as quickly as they got on.
After To Kill A King jumped off the stage came my least favourite part of every show which is waiting for the next band. I took the opportunity to go outside and talk to the various people who had gone out to the show that night. I met students and professors of the nearby college Northern Arizona University, security workers, a Doug Benson lookalike, merch guys, lifelong Flagstaff residents, people who traveled from Phoenix, or California and so many other different people who all came to see the same people perform.
After meeting some new people I made my way inside to see The Drowning Men perform. This would be my third time seeing them play. The first time would be years ago as they opened for Streetlight Manifesto. My second time was also opening for Frank Turner back in Phoenix, Arizona last year.
As they took the stage in their leather and denim, The Drowning Men just launched into one of the most drawn out openings to their song “Rita” I have ever heard. This band took the time to thank Frank Turner from the stage for having them tour with him throughout the country. There is no other real way to explain The Drowning Men’s stage presence other than improvised. Nothing but the best kind of improvisation though. I’d say the high point of the set was when the lead guitar James Smith jumps on what looked like a roadies’ back and starts destroying the rest of the current song (In the best way possible of course). Ending their set with the classic “Courageous Son” from their first album ‘Beheading of the Songbird’, they didn’t leave much room for Frank Turner to come out and improve on.
Exploding on stage with his sailor’s mouth and band The Sleeping Souls, Frank Turner started his close to two hour set with the classic fan favorite, “Photosynthesis”. Interrupting the middle of his own song with “This is show number 1,561. One thousand. Five hundred. Sixty-one. Are you guys f*cking ready?” And continues into the song with “I’ll play, and you sing, the perfect way for the evening to begin.” as if speaking it directly to the crowd of a few hundred people all there from the small town of Flagstaff to see him perform.
Frank Turner is the type of performer who interacts with his crowd. A lot. After only his first song, he took a few minutes to apologize for his raspy voice which he then blamed on the altitude (7,000ft), and proceeded to play the song “Out of Breath” which he claims is the first time he’s ever performed the song.
He also let on that he’s writing a lot more songs for a new album that will be out either this year, or next.
Turner began the second half of the show by saying “The world is such a shitty place and having a show is a place you can have away from all the dickheads. Let’s all just be nice together and have fun.” After seeing two people in the crowd begin fighting and subsequently resolving their fight. At this point, he explains how he likes to learn about the towns he’s playing in. So he began telling us three things he learned about Flagstaff, Arizona. Those three being “You guys have Lowell Observatory. You f*ckers discovered Pluto there! Oh, uh, you guys ALMOST had Hollywood. But it wasn’t sunny enough. Oh! And of course. Ted Danson came from here too that’s pretty f*ckin’ insane.”
After beating out Boston Mass for “Best Crowd”, Frank Turner let’s us know that he’s off to “Smoke some groupies and shag some cocaine.” and he and The Sleeping Souls exit the stage.
But of course, he couldn’t just leave us in Flagstaff wanting more. Therefore, he came back out to play three more songs starting with “Reasons Not To Be An Idiot”, then straight into “Four Simple Words” which is probably the only song I know that could get people to dance like it does. And finally, Frank Turner closed out his set with his newest song “Recovery”.
Leaving me with a long walk home to reflect on the show stocked with three amazing acts.