Frank Turner Keeps the Energy Going at the Fillmore
I bought Frank Turner tickets in August as a birthday gift. Though I respected him as a musician after a few listens, his performance at the Fillmore last Friday night was enough to make me a fan.
As the crowd was getting comfortable in the dimly lit space, British songwriter Jay McAllister, known as Beans On Toast, took the stage for a charged but lighthearted set. An old friend of Turner’s, McAllister was loose, down-to-earth, and funny. His lyrics left nothing uncriticized: capitalistic greed, religion, even chicken farming and Donald Trump. Highlights aside from joining in a chicken-clucking symphony and belting the chorus for “F**k You Nashville,” was the song “God Is a Terrorist,” about Charlie Hebdo. “When a brown man kills we blame the religion, and when a black man kills we blame the race. And when a white man kills we say it’s an isolated event and that he’s criminally insane.” Armed with just a mic, an acoustic guitar, and what appeared to be a Yuengling, this tune about summed up Beans On Toast: “Don’t Believe the Bulls**t.”
The man of the hour, Frank Turner entered to a warm crowd a few minutes shy of 10 pm, dressed in a Phillies jersey with his name emblazoned on the back (which he made a point to boast about before peeling off the shirt). He opened with a song from his latest release, Positive Songs for Negative People, the encouraging anthem “Get Better.”
Turner was excited to be the second act to play the brand new Fishtown venue, after Hall and Oates on Thursday night. “I went backstage to the toilet and thought to myself, the only people that have used this before are f**king Daryl and John,” the starstruck singer told the crowd.
He fulfilled his promise of playing songs both old and new: “Long Live the Queen,” and set-closer “Photosynthesis” were some classics, as well as many of the tracks from the new album, “Mittens,” “Josephine” and my personal favorite, “Glorious You.”
Turner even invited Beans On Toast back to the stage with his band The Sleeping Souls to lead the crowd in jumping jacks.
With each of his bandmates absorbed in their instruments, Turner performed each song seamlessly, with everyone jumping up and down for the hard-hitters like “Out of Breath.” He even crowdsurfed in his flat cap toward the end of the show, always eager to amp up the energy. “Dance like it’s your last chance, Philly. Maybe you can convince me to have my birthday party here instead.”
Energetic, charismatic, and charming, it is obvious why Turner has amassed such a devoted fanbase. While he fit the role of dreamy punk—bearded, tatted, with a dazzling smile—he did not win over the crowd on looks alone. As for me, Positive Songs for Negative People has been on repeat this weekend. And for the brand new venue, floors now christened with beer, Fillmore’s warm, alternative feel is sure to be a space where many fond memories will be made for Philly.