TURF reviews: Frank Turner & the Silent Souls at Fort York – June 6, 2013

Frank Turner & The Silent Souls performed at Toronto Urban Roots Fest July 6. Photo: Tom Beedham

Frank Turner & The Silent Souls performed at Toronto Urban Roots Fest July 6. Photo: Tom Beedham

“Because punk is for the kids who never fit in with the rest,” Frank Turner sings in “Four Simple Words.” But his stuff’s not really for those same kids.

Some have credited Frank Turner with a folk-punk sound (maybe for the Black Flag tattoo on his wrist or the “FTHC” utilized in his logo), but his music is likely more of a result of the latter compounded genre or a kind of meta-punk than an actual courier of its MO.

Turner’s songs have the virtues of blunt, transparent lyrics, but their fraternal pub-fit themes and subject matter are generally anthemic before they are subversive, and his instrumentation is the stuff of good pop.

You can give him points for his ethics, though. Prior to his set, even though swarmed by fans just seconds afterwards, Turner ventured out into the crowd to get a feel of the environment the rest of the festival was enjoying. The singer’s been vocal about everyone at his shows being equal and not getting high on anything like his personal celebrity, so kudos to him for making good on that.

You can call Frank Turner (and the Sleeping Souls) alternative, but the music is a little too watered down (albeit with a pint or two) for punk classification. (And if you’re not satisfied with the above justification for that, the comment section’s down there; do your thing and educate me. I want to believe.)

While Turner’s punk sensibilities are up for debate, his folk status is undeniable, beholden nearly entirely to his singing/songwriting. Either sung over the electric guitar, drums, bass, and keys of the Silent Souls or simply the acoustic guitar of his solo work, Turner’s songs are by and large relatable stories told through a steady stream of consciousness.

The one exception that definitely gains him some punk credit, though, is his “Glory Hallelujah,” which, containing the lyrics “There never was a God / There is no God” prominently is comparatively confrontational. At TURF, it registered as an entertaining social experiment, visibly placing the broad festival audience that had sung along to set opener “Four Simple Words” and its “I want to dance” chorus in an uncomfortable position.

Otherwise, Turner put forth a great cover of The Weakerthans’ “A Plea From A Cat Named Virtue,” supplied as part of Turner’s tradition of performing regional covers based on where he’s playing. (The Weakerthans are from Winnipeg, but hey, close enough.)

Setlist:
“Four Simple Words”
“If I Ever Stray”
“Try This At Home”
“Losing Days”
“Glory Hallelujah”
“Long Live The Queen”
“The Way I Tend To Be”
“Wessex Boy”
(unknown)
“A Plea From A Cat Named Virtue” (Weakerthans)
“Reasons Not To Be An Idiot”
“Plain Sailing Weather”
“I Am Disappeared”
“The Road”
“Recovery”
“I Still Believe”
“Photosynthesis”

Originally published by The Ontarion.

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