By Chris Rotolo, The Creator
Few musicians can captivate a sold out Asbury Park assemblage quite like Bruce Springsteen, enthralling patrons with musical yarns not so grandiose, but authentic, and honest, and relative to the everyday existence that we all endure.
Few auteurs own a catalogue that connects so deeply, containing tales of love found and lost; escapist anthems coupled with prideful balladry for one’s own home; revolutionary ragers, party-time mug swinging poetics, and operatic, made-for-the-stage, dance numbers, which yank every heart string on the scale of human emotion.
Many artists believe that “something as simple as Rock N’ Roll can save us all,” but only a select few posses a power over their audience, crawling into each individual’s psyche, causing every bewitched onlooker to trust in the lyrical rhetoric washing over them.
Frank Turner is one of those artists and on Sunday evening the axe wielding raconteur from Wessex, England returned to Asbury Park’s storied Boardwalk to perform an intimate two and a half hour, 25-song set, to a capacity Wonder Bar patronage on the final date of his U.S. Winter Tour with a new backing band dubbed the Sleeping Souls.
After waltzing upon Lance & Debbie’s carpeted planks to the pre-recorded brass introductory that is “Eulogy,” the opening number on Turner’s 2011 full length England Keep My Bones, the group assumed their positions next to a monument for the famed East Side resident, Tillie, sitting stage right, who seemingly shared the same toothy grin worn by the audience of excited bystanders. The outfit proceeded to tear through a series of unity pieces such as “Try This At Home,” “If I Ever Stray” and “The Real Damage,” before the front-man reflected upon his strong relationship with our musical hub by the sea.
Continue reading for videos of new songs…
“It wasn’t the first time I played in the States,” recounted Turner to his people, “but the first time I ever played in the U.S. where I thought someone gave a shit about this music was across the street at Asbury Lanes back in 2008 when I played with Tim Barry.”
“My home is in London,” continued the sincerities spouting songsmith, “but the first place in America that’s ever felt like home to me was Asbury Park…Tonight feels like a London gig for me, which is no easy feat. Thank you so much for coming out.”
The Rock N’ Roll revivalist rewarded his court with a series of Campfire-Punk classics such as “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous,” “Love, Ire & Song,” and “Substitute” before delving into a new song sandwich…allow me to elaborate.
His two-button long sleeve t-shirt soaked through to the skin with hard work and perspiration, revealing on his chest an anchor etched to the left and a spider web to the right, Turner struck up the chords to a melodious new sing along ode appropriately titled “Tattoos,” in which the songwriter sings the life cycle of his ink, from spending his newly earned paycheck on the markings, to his beliefs of yesteryear fading with time, and eventually restoring them in hopes of recapturing the past…much to the delight of the painted patronage. Rambunctious renditions of “Rivers” and “Wessex Boy” followed suit encompassed by another new number “I Want To Dance.”
“You all know about musicals,” said Turner, “and I fucking hate musicals. But this is a song about dancing and I’ve had this vision for it that one day, and this could be that day, spontaneously, the entire room is going to break out into a choreographed dance routine. People are going to be kissing and doing backflips off tables. It would help me believe in the magic of musicals again.”
Only a handful of denim jacketed punks took the plunge to the slow starting medley of sorts, however, an explosive refrain caused the dance floor to boil en route to a frenzied eruption of blissful emotion.
A call for belief in oneself rather than spirits in the sky, “Glory Hallelujah,” followed and was backed by Turner’s latest single, “I Still Believe,” and a rendition of Queen’s “Somebody To Love.”
A pair of encores followed in which Turner performed the live show rarity and fan favorite “Heartless Bastard Motherfucker,” another new song inspired the KISS space monster and bass plucker’s new book and his gross act of collecting polaroids of every female he hops in the sack with, “Where For Art Thou Gene Simmons,” and finally a culminating cover of the Boss’ “Thunder Road.”
….Oh yeah, and he’ll be back in September. Stay tuned for more on that.