With a smattering of tattoos across his forearms, hands, fingers and leaning far back in his chair at Gibson Showroom this past Tuesday, Frank Turner rattled off a quick and dirty intro to the songs on his upcoming album, Positive Songs for Negative People before turning it up full blast. “This one’s about NY, this one’s about tennis.” His descriptions were straight to the point, and honestly all that we needed; he simply let the music speak for itself.
The album begins almost deceptively, with a wholly acoustic song about the River Thames and then rolls right into the energetic lead single, “Get Better.” This is the Frank Turner that people show up for time and time again and he certainly doesn’t disappoint here. This song is in your face and gives no f*cks about it. This is a triumph song that completely succeeds in making you feel like it will indeed get better, so stop your whining. A slightly more tender, but wonderfully written song, “Mittens,” about lost love, caught my attention with its catchy chorus: “I once wrote you love songs/ but never fell in love/ we used to fit like mittens/ but never like gloves.” The “song about tennis” had great punchy drums that got everyone’s toes tapping, and there was a hit of piano in there that made me smile. At the end of the album, Frank also included a beautiful live song that was dedicated to a friend who sadly passed away. With only acoustic guitar accompanying him, the words take center stage here. It was a beautiful conclusion to a beautiful album. The entire album’s theme of triumph and conviction was evident throughout, and really did embody its title. This would make a believer out of almost anyone.
After the listening party concluded, Frank took time to chat with everyone in the room, listening intently and answering questions about the album and taking photos. I was able to steal away a few moments with Frank in the guitar room next door where he happily geeked out about the vintage amp stack he had been playing through earlier in the day, joked about stealing every single guitar in the room, and finally revealed the location of his secret show he had been teasing on Twitter all morning.
As I sped away in a cab toward Williamsburg for Frank’s “not so secret anymore” secret show at Grand Victory, I had a vague idea what I was in for. Frank would undoubtedly sing old favorites and soon to be favorites and everyone would sail out into the muggy night air a little more content than when they arrived. That notion was only partly right. Add on the fact that the venue was dim enough to barely see the drink in front of your face and was so hot and muggy inside there was condensation dripping from the ceilings. It was so packed I had to push past no less than 20 sweaty bodies to find a spot near the stage. Once I got there, it was a flurry of outstretched fists pumping into the air accompanied by straining voices yell-singing along with Frank’s every lyric. I can’t begin to explain the joy I felt when I got to yell “I WANNA FIT LIKE GLOVES!” during this live version of the aforementioned “Mittens.” The frenzy only intensified after Frank said he would play 7 songs as his “encore.” And all of this for free. I couldn’t have asked for a better “Frank Turner Experience” than the one I was treated to.
If you missed out on Frank’s “not so secret anymore” secret show, fear not. He’ll be back in NYC in September, playing 3 nights at Irving Plaza, two of which have already sold out, so be quick about it. Make sure to pick up Positive Songs for Negative People so you have another assortment of songs to yell-sing at those shows. Outstretched fists not optional.
Article: Lesley Keller