A rising star in the world of folk/punk music, Frank Turner has had a very busy year. His musical engagements included a performance at the House of Blues Anaheim on Sept. 20 as well as the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.
Although Turner claims he is relatively low on the success totem pole in his home country of England, he has fans around the world including award-winning film producer and director Danny Boyle.
Boyle has directed and produced Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later and 127 Hours among others.
Boyle was also the artistic director for Isles of Wonder, the opening ceremony of the summer Olympics.
He personally invited Turner to perform during the opening ceremony, which Turner was surprised by, to say the least.
“I felt surreal, that’s probably the best word for it. I got a call from Danny Boyle, who is an amazing director and artist,” said Turner. “And it turns out he’s a fan of my music which is remarkable to hear, I mean, it was a surprise to me, and I said ‘yes’ right away.”
With such a big stage and big step in his career, the 30-year-old musician didn’t let it go to his head.
Turner continued with his scheduled tour, which brought him to the House of Blues. He has appeared at the venue many times but this time instead of being the supporting act, Turner was headlining.
Although the folk/punk music scene does not receive a lot of mainstream media attention, it’s heavy in followers. This explains why fans were waiting to get in when the doors opened at 7 p.m.
Several fans traveled many miles to see Turner, which is one of the main differences he notes between concertgoers in England and the U.S.
Riley Marts, 19, came from Seattle to see Turner at the House of Blues. Although he was originally supposed to attend the show with his sister, her work schedule didn’t allow it so he went alone.
“He’s one of the few people who can get the crowd going with just an acoustic guitar,” said Marts.
While the hall of crowded fans (who had come from far and wide) clapped, sang and danced along with the two opening acts, Jenny Owen Youngs and Larry and His Flask, Turner did not step on stage until nearly 10 p.m.
The energy and excitement was unmistakable in the red shine of people’s faces and the damp cluster of mosh-pit troopers.
Frank opened with a crowd favorite, “If Ever I Stray,” from 2011’s England Keep My Bones album. He followed this with “The Road” from 2009’s Poetry Of The Deed.
The crowd did not miss one beat, one step or one word. The set list varied between old, new and unheard songs.
The crowd went absolutely crazy during some of his most anthem-esque songs like “Long Live The Queen,” which was well planned by Turner.
“On the one hand something that’s important to me is that kind of access,” Turner said. “Trying to break down the barrier between the performer and the audience.”
Turner encouraged and often demanded that his audience let loose, have fun and sing along with him. The audience didn’t let him down.
Turner will continue his life on tour and next month will begin recording his next album in Burbank, Calif., which is due out in early 2013.
Although Turner is weary in discussing the album at any length, he admits that it is turning into a bit of a “breakup” album.
“When I’m still working on something I kind of want to just close my eyes and let it be whatever it wants to be,” Turner said. “I don’t want to start picking it apart before it’s even been put together.”
Many fans are waiting for this, especially after being treated to a few sneak-peeks in the show.
A phenomenon that Turner has only recently become comfortable with is the flattering act of his fans tattooing his lyrics on themselves.
Perhaps more amusing is that Turner will sometimes write these lyrics in less than conventional ways. He said that he is often seen running out of the shower screaming “Pen! Pen! Somebody get me a f****ing pen!”
“Inspirations hits wherever it hits,” Turner said.
Most fans don’t know or care where the lyrics were born as long as Turner takes the stage and they get to be a part of it, if only for a little while.
Turner says that among the various tokens from fans his favorites include an engraved St. Christopher pendant as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers season flag from the 2005 season.
He keeps every memento and calls himself a hoarder although he has no place that he calls home at the moment.
Through touring, traveling and dedicating most of his life to his craft, Turner has learned to be an activist about his life. He believes in the ability to make your own luck in life and seize the opportunities around you.
“You can make the world pay attention,” Turner said.
And that’s exactly what he’s doing. As someone who is very self-critical, Turner wants to improve as a songwriter and do what he does in better and more interesting ways.
“I’ll keep hammering away,” Turner added.
The crowded hall of fans will hammer with him. Devoted in their hearts as well as in their tattooed skin.
Fans at the House of Blues chanted with Turner, in unison with every last word of his closing song.
“I won’t sit down, and I won’t shut up and most of all I will not grow up.”