In the last 18 months, I have attended only two gigs. This is also the same number of road accidents I have been involved in during that time. Fatherhood curbs a man’s gig going days quicker than a fear of current denim trends. It also seems to increase your chances of being involved in a vehicular collisions.
The latest gig was last week and has unexpectedly stormed its way into my all time top 5 gigs attended. That’s saying something as there has been some memorable ones. Thursday at the Metro, The Get Up Kids at the Metro, Warped Tour 97, Blink 182 at Festival Hall, Rise Against at Festival Hall, Ben Folds with MSO or The Gaslight Anthem at the Palace (after the Metro changed its name).
Now we can add to that list Frank Turner, live at the Barwon Club on a Thursday night in regional Victoria. Why a man who has played Wembley would play a city that has a central population less than the capacity of the famous stadium is beyond me. But I am grateful that he did.
On the last leg of an Australian tour, Turner drew a modest crowd to what is a corner pub with a tidy little band room. The hundreds of us gathered that night witnessed a genuine rock show.
It had been a hard few weeks behind the desk at work, with my fingers tired from dancing across the keyboard and my mind dead from corporate clutter. It had left me flat and questioning what I was doing and if I should just throw it all in to become one of those guys who turns stop-signs at roadworks sites or trips over footpaths and sues the local council to spend his days jetskiing.
The realization I hadn’t been to a gig in eighteen months compounded it all – it was like a tangible sign of my mortality in some weird way. It freaked me in the same way as the recent realization I had, that in the not too distant future there will come a time when I will have to admit that my best years aren’t in front of me, but behind me. By then I’ll be stuck on a roadworks site, turning a sign and mentally dreaming about polishing my jetski.
Frank Turner knows where it is at. The man plays music that you could perhaps identify as country inspired folk-punk. He took the stage in a cheap white business shirt and black dress pants, teamed with Nike normcore runners. He looked more like an off-duty caterer than a rock star. His backing band, The Lost Souls, dressed the same and looked like your Dad did when he came home from work but refused to ditch the suit.
Together they played a set that was nothing short of amazing. The room pulsated with a singalong energy that lasted the whole night. In between songs Frank told stories and espoused views that made you believe he really was a DIY punk guy and would do this even if it wasn't a big success for him. He has to be the most punk rock thing out there. An ex- Hardcore guy playing country/folk on an acoustic guitar and dressed like a waiter.
That’s what I found so inspiring. Here was a dude who seemed to just do whatever he wanted and expressed whatever he believed, not caring about what people thought. It wasn't in an obnoxious way, but in a considered way that inspires. His lyrics drip with the thoughts of an intelligent and well-educated man, who has big ideas about big ideas and wrestles with the meaning of life, love and rock’n’roll.
Towards the end of the set, he played ‘ I Still Believe’ which contains the lyrics “Who would have thought, that after all, something as simple as rock n roll would save us all?” Well Frank, that night, the answer was I did.
That Frank Turner gig reminded me that sometimes in life, you just need to turn it up to eleven and drown out the noise with a better kind of noise. Next time it won’t be so long between shows.