The key to booking a great show is to have a solid undercard. And although the sellout crowd at The Stone Pony last Thursday was there to view The Gaslight Anthem tear the place down, Frank Turner and William Elliot Whitmore did their fare share of slashing and burning to the Summer Stage.
Waves composed, not of salt water, sea weed, and crustaceans, but of cheers and applause, spilled over the Asbury Park boardwalk and flooded the outdoor stage. The headliner was still on its tour bus when Whitmore seated himself at the microphone and proceeded to delight the small gathering of fans that lined the railing and those scattered around the beer garden.
“We got lucky,” said Whitmore as the two of us knocked back Jack Daniel’s shots behind the stage after his set. “Frank [Turner] and I were passing through the area when they asked us if we wanted to attach our tour to Gaslight’s. And of course we said yes.”
Whitmore is simplicity at its finest, with no backing band and no electronic aid. He is a solo artist armed with a banjo, his thunder clapping boot heal to keep the beat, and a beautiful, booming voice, born from the depths of his whiskey coated bowels and a Lee County, Iowa upbringing.
This soulful bluesman is a freedom fighter with a heart full of fire and a mind engrained with punk rock ideology. His cover of Bad Religion’s “Don’t Prey On Me” aids as evidence to that.
“Getting together like this,” said Whitmore after his opening number “From The Cell Door To The Gallows Pole,” “is how we, the hard working people of this world can win against the powers that be. So thank you for coming out.”
A true man of the people, Whitmore took time out of his night, before and after his set, to speak with every fan that came calling, including a 45-minute chat with a group of admirers outside the fenced in and secured backstage area.
“Old Devils” by William Elliot Whitmore
“I came to tour in America, the land of air conditioning and ice cubes, from England, a country that doesn’t believe in that shit,” said a joshing Frank Turner. “I was gonna give that one to you America, but there’s none of that shit up here on this “outdoor” stage. I can’t believe you’ve got us playing outside in this heat. Not too bright.”
Frank Turner, who shared the stage with his touring guitar corps, is an acoustic folk punk-rocker that utilized his biting humor and sarcasm to make an outdoor show, played to a gathering Gaslight Anthem audience, feel like an intimate performance at a club in Winchester, England.
Turner’s catchy brand of Pub-Rock blends his quick picked guitar riffs with meaningful, yet uncomplicated, lyrics that pleased the Jersey riot that roared and cheered this scruffy Englishman.
“Listen,” said Turner to a fixated audience prior to breaking into his new song “I Still Believe” that’s message I think can save the world, “I’m not a religious person, but I do believe in guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, three-minute long songs, 12-track albums, Elvis Presley, Bruce Fucking Springsteen, and rock n’ roll!!!”
The chorus goes like this: “Now who’d have thought/that after all/something as simple as rock n’ roll could save us all. Now who’d have thought/that after all/it was rock n’ roll.”
Take note world. Musicians have been beating around this bush for years. But Frank Turner came right out and said it. Maybe it’s time we all bought in.
“Reasons Not To Be An Idiot” by Frank Turner
Frank Turner’s Setlist:
- The Real Damage
- Poetry Of The Dead
- Try This At Home
- Reasons Not To Be An Idiot
- I Still Believe (New Song)
- Long Live The Queen
- I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
- Sons Of Liberty
- The Road