Saturday saw us actually attend two shows: first, we made it to Farmington Community Library to see Frank Turner perform an acoustic 7-song set followed by a meet and greet and signing of his book, “The Road Beneath My Feet”. Limited to 150 attendees, you could have heard a pin drop as soon as Frank started singing something that is extremely uncommon for a Frank Turner show!
Frank played acoustic versions of Wisdom Teeth, Journey of the Magi, Rivers, Love Forty Down, To Take You Home, Good and Gone, a new song that will be featured on an upcoming album, and shared a few stories and anecdotes in between. As we wanted to get in line early for the evening’s event at Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, we ended up leaving after he was done playing and therefore didn’t stick around for the meet and greet. We’re extremely fortunate that he remains as accessible as he is, and figured that we would be likely to meet up with him at the show anyways.
We arrived to the next venue as the clouds were rolling in and the sky was getting darker. It was inevitable that it was going to rain and we were without shelter, save for my very cheap, very ineffective umbrella. Frank’s song, “The Next Storm” became very relevant: “And we wondered if we’d ever get dry again…” Between the rain, and extreme heat and humidity, the answer was a resounding ‘no’.
Finally, it was time to start the show, and our patience was rewarded with a front row and center position at the barrier. Although we had originally purchased tickets with the intention of seeing Frank Turner again, Chuck Ragan had been added to the bill after the tour was originally announced, and we were equally excited to see him too. This was the first opportunity we’ve had to see him and we were definitely not disappointed: Chuck, accompanied by Todd Beene on back up vocals and pedal steel, were incredible. Their set list was short, but packed with songs spanning across most of his albums: Meet You in the Middle and Nothing Left to Prove from Covering Ground, The Boat from Feast or Famine, Bedroll Lullaby and Vagabond from Till Midnight, and Rotterdam from Gold Country. As we had expected Chuck simply playing solo, the additional back up from Todd was beautiful and really helped to round out the sound. It was an amazing beginning to the night.
There was a short break while the crew set things back up for Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, but soon we heard the familiar sound of the Jurassic Park theme, signalling their entrance to the stage. Opening with “I Still Believe”, Frank and the Souls kept the energy high and the crowd moving with “The Next Storm”, “Recovery” and fan favourite “Long Live the Queen”. However, in a very special accommodation for yours truly, Frank slowed things down and played “Cleopatra in Brooklyn” solo and acoustically about half way through the set per a request that I had sent him a few days prior. It’s one of my absolute favourite songs, so this was undeniably my favourite part of his set. He was joined once again by the Sleeping Souls for the rest of the set, which included “The Way I Tend to Be”, “Photosynthesis”, and “Four Simple Words” saw him close out the show by crowd-surfing over us and dancing with the girl beside me- it was her first time even hearing of Chuck Ragan and Frank Turner, but in talking with her afterwards, she admitted she was looking forward to going home and looking up more of their music as she was quickly becoming a fan!
Because we had been able to be at the front for the bands we were most interested in seeing, we opted to move towards the back for Flogging Molly, and let their fans take our position on the barrier. I’ve actually seen Flogging Molly twice before, and although I enjoy them, we wanted their fans to have the option to be closer to the action. It was actually nice to move into a more open part of the pit anyways, as we had a bit more breathing and dancing room! Flogging Molly are definitely a band who gets their crowd moving, and very rarely do you even have a moment to sit still. They opened with “The Hand of John L. Sullivan” and didn’t let up through “Drunken Lullabies”, “Requiem for a Dying Song” and “What’s Left of the Flag”. “Float”, one of my favourite songs by them, sounded even more impressive live. The show closed to all of the bands and crew joining Flogging Molly on stage for a song and dance to Rodney Dangerfield’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, and having left everything we had at the show, we left, exhausted and happy.