It’s rare for a show to have a sense of ‘coming full circle’ but this was something I felt last week when I photographed Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls show at Terminal 5, which was their biggest NYC show to date. The first time I photographed Frank was two years ago when he played at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory. At the time I didn’t know anything about him but I had friends left and right (from the UK of course) telling me to go see him. That show, after all this time, has stuck with me intensely because of what I experienced at that show is still such a distinct thing about Frank Turners shows. The show at Knitting Factory was sold out to the brim and throughout the whole set his fans were singing his songs back to him. Sure people do that at shows all the time but his fans were singing so loudly that for a vast majority of the set you couldn’t hear Frank sing. It was one of the most incredible moments I have ever experienced at a show, and something I’ve come to realize is that with the room being so small Frank had no choice but to look his fans right in the eye and I can still remember the expression of his face, an expression that was filled with both gratefulness and surprise.
He’s a musician that works insanely hard and cares deeply about his live shows, which is such an admirable trait about him considering he plays so many shows a year. When I photographed/interviewed him at Webster Hall last year he echoed that obsession with his live show greatly. I noticed this both with his performance and the conversation that we had prior to the show. He believes that he’s first and foremost a performer when it comes to his live shows and his Terminal 5 show last week was probably the greatest example of this. During the summer Frank was told to cancel his remaining tour dates to allow his back to heal but rather then doing that he decided to give acoustic guitar duties to my friend Cahir O’Doherty so that he could focus on singing and not overly exerting himself for injury. With this in mind, I expected a show where Frank would be taped to his mic-stand in fear of falling over but instead I got the absolute opposite of that and my mind is still trying to make sense of what I experienced at Terminal 5. Frank was energetic as fuck; there literally isn’t a more proper way to put that. He was strutting the stage, jumping off of things, crouching; I think he even rolled at one point. It was one of the most badass things I had ever seen and what blew me away the most was how his newfound stage presence didn’t conflict with his songs at all. All that raw energy and expression felt right at home with the songs from his discography; and it felt even more fitting for the songs off of Tape Deck Heart.
Something else that made this show intensely memorable was Frank’s great choice of support acts. Koo Koo Kangaroo are so much fun and they had me laughing the whole time they were on stage. But through my laughter there was a genuine smile on my face and I think you can’t give an act a better compliment then that. The second opening act was Australian based punk band The Smith Street Band and their performance was awesome as fuck (again, there literally isn’t a more elegant way to put that). They’re the band that I wish I had the chance to listen to while I was in high school but I’ll gladly take being a fan of their brilliant live shows as an adult. I cannot wait to see Frank and The Sleeping souls perform again, as well as all his support acts. As mentioned before: this show was simply awesome as fuck. Enjoy my photos from the show below.
Koo Koo Kangaroo
The Smith Street Band
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
Be sure to check out Frank Turners latest album, Tape Deck Heart, which is out now!
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