Authenticity goes a long way. It is being true to oneself. It is not giving another version of you in front of others. For some people, they have a public version and a private version of themselves. This is the case with musicians, where the lyrics written are not always about oneself. They may be telling a story or creating a persona different from their own. With Frank Turner, he puts himself into his lyrics and is true to who he is during any performance. His latest visit in a less than usual venue for his tours, the Ikeda Theater in Mesa, would put this on display for all once again.
Accompanying him for this tour is yet another fantastic musician in Keyleigh Goldsworthy. Over the years I’ve watched Frank Turner, he has an excellent track record of musicians he tours with. Keyleigh is no different in that. Up on the large stage at the Ikeda Theater, she stood alone playing a mixture of rock and folk tunes. Appropriately, she alternated between electric and acoustic guitars through the set.
Speaking of authentic, Kayleigh spoke of how she has found most of her song writing comes from the sad times. She jested as she would go into each song about how it was another sad topic. Kayleigh pointed out that a negative person wouldn’t wear such a bright outfit, which was adorned with “Cursed to Wander” on the back. Those words are a song on her latest release. The outfit matched the coozie she had created for sale in her merch booth. This spawned an anecdote about how she had someone question the pronunciation of coozie too. With the awesome charm between songs and the great performance, Kayleigh Goldsworthy is yet another excellent musician introduced to me through a Frank Turner tour.
Then came the first set from Frank Turner, a solo and acoustic playing of the new album “No Man’s Land.” For this set, there was a backdrop hiding the Sleeping Souls’ instruments that would be lit to show the album name as he talked between songs. It went solid and through patterns of lighting during each one. He had a little coffee table setup with a chair and microphone to make it feel like a fireside chat on the large stage.
Frank went into the tales about the women that inspired the songs. He highlighted when we went from England to North American tales. The stories included how when Sister Rosetta was written, she had not been put into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was planning to do an entire campaign around it to get her acknowledged as the originator of the genre. Then 2016 happened, and it was put on the back burner while he wrote the album “Be More Kind” in response to events of the world. In the time between writing it and releasing it on the new album, she has since been acknowledged and put into the Cleveland based hall of fame. The first set of songs was insightful and educating on the new album.
Following that, we had the Sleeping Souls return for a somewhat unplugged session of music from the rest of his albums. This too was a storytelling session. Frank started back into his catalog and progressed forward through it for an hour and a half. The songs he played highlighting the trials and tribulations of his relationship woes that inspired songs. He told anecdotes like how “Jet Lag” was about calling his ex-girlfriend from an Australian airport when he knew from the moment she picked up it was a bad idea. He talked about how it took a while to realize it was his yearning to always be on the road that was responsible for the relationship issues. It was accepting this that made a point of growth for himself as he progressed toward his relationship with his now wife.
Frank highlighted as the songs on the more recent albums symbolized a change in that and his disposition. It was cool to see Frank swap guitar for piano with the Sleeping Souls’ Matt Nasir on “There She Is.” The set was ended with five non-story telling songs and hits including “Photosynthesis.” With that song, he asked the crowd to get out of the seats and stand to sing along. We remained standing through the final song “Be More Kind.” Closing on that couldn’t have been a better message to leave in the minds of all in attendance. This was a set that continues to reinforce the reasons I love Frank Turner and his music. It was insightful into the background of songs, the people that inspired them and his own life. This raw authenticity coupled with his talent to put together his songs are why I will always be drawn back for more Frank Turner music live and recorded.