How fortuitous that Frank Turner’s 2017 tour would kick off just as this country faces the aftermath of one of the most contentious elections in our nation’s history.
The English folk-punker’s musings have always leaned toward the political, so it seemed all to apropos that he’s still out supporting his most current release Positive Songs For Negative People during these nervous times. Despite the heaviness of the age, the U.K. native was determined to keep the proceedings convivial.
On the first night of a two date residency at Chicago’s House of Blues, Turner refrained from preachiness, letting the music do the talking and the performance serve as the distraction. At various points during the evening, he embraced the ridiculous, like when he encouraged an audience member to crowd surf from the front barricade, back to the soundboard, over to the bar and returned to the stage, two shots of Jameson in tow, which the two threw back in celebratory fashion.
He also had the entire venue engage in a collective group hug, provided you embrace someone you did not know.
He even invited two young audience members on stage during “Recovery” to bang on tambourines, both of them his dopelgangers, if in matching clothing only. He ended the evening with the fans, dancing in the center of the main floor, ever the proletarian.
The show’s early start time (5:30) also meant that openers fellow folkster Will Varley, rowdy quintet Arkells and punk smart-asses Masked Intruder were all given generous time allotments for their respective sets.
– Words and photos by Curt Baran