Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls + Mom Jeans + Emily Barker – The Tivoli Brisbane [Live Review]

Review and gallery: JD Garrahy

Gather ‘round my children and let me regale you with the tale of how Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls managed to get Brisbane to leave the working week behind and truly let loose at The Tivoli.

Leading off tonight is Emily Barker, what a voice. With her own brand of soothing folk music and armed solely with a guitar and harmonica, this was truly a great way to start the evening. I’m sure that she has amassed a new gathering of fans just from this show alone. Engaging with the crowd and paying her respects to the original owners of the land on which we stand was brilliant to behold. Gives you a higher level of respect to the artist and in my opinion, helps to truly engage with their music. With a phenomenal performance under her belt, it feels way too soon for it to be over. I highly recommend seeing her if you have the chance, just truly magical.

Mom Jeans are up next, and this is how you get a crowd moving for the main act. The Californian four piece really get into their set and show that they could headline their own tour of our great country. High energy, infectious grooves, and hefty crowd interaction makes for a memorable performance. Bassist Sam Kless really gets the crowd going with his constant chants between songs of “WOO! WOO! WOO!”. You can really tell that these guys love their job and love their fans. Stellar show lads, come back real soon.

Now, the main act. If you have never been to a Frank Turner show, then you have no idea what is in store, for the huddled masses that HAVE seen the man live before, you knew what you were in for when you bought your ticket. Walking on stage to thunderous applause and kicking straight into “Punches” from the latest album (until next year) FTHCTurner and The Sleeping Souls take no prisoners and show just what a folk punk show should be. With everyone absolutely losing it when “Get Better” fires up, the first real sing along of the night has been a success (although, everyone was singing along to the first two songs as well). With a unified chant of “We could get better. Because we’re not dead yet”, The Tivoli is at an absolute high of positive energy.

Addressing the gathering about the importance of good mental health, Turner says a line that really resonates with myself, and I’m sure quite a few other people, “it’s not a sign of weakness to admit when you’re struggling, it’s a sign of strength”, before starting the intro to “I Haven’t Been Doing So Well”. Following up with a triple combo of “Plain Sailing Weather”, “If I Ever Stray” & “I Am Disappeared”, it’s magical to see every person in the room vibing together and as Turner says, “music is the thing that turns strangers into friends”, truer words were never spoken.

As we’re halfway through the set, Turner takes a moment to reflect on the tragic suicide of Scott Hutchison, the enigmatic front man of Frightened Rabbit, a man that departed this world well before his time. As Turner tells the story of just how truly amazing Hutchison was as not only an artist, but a very dear friend. This sets the tone for the song “A Wave Across A Bay”, which leaves the audience awe struck, which in turn gives it the gravity that it rightly deserves. Remember, it’s not weak to speak.

As The Sleeping Souls depart the stage in what Turner calls “their mandatory union sanctioned break, he picks up the acoustic guitar and shows us that he’s not only a great front man whose music is complimented by a full band, but also a stellar solo performer that can capture an audience’s attention with ease even when its only himself on the stage. Giving us a brilliant rendition of “The Way I Tend To Be” and then jumping into “Be More Kind”, which was born from the political climate in the UK of recent years, it’s brilliant to not only hear these songs in a live setting, but also hear the origins of how they came to be. It’s time for another sing-along, this time it’s crowd favourite “The Ballad of Me and My Friends”. With a crowd this size screaming back to Turner “and we’re definitely going to Hell. But we’ll have all the best stories to tell” gets the emotions stirring. What an amazing feeling.

The last three songs of the main set just hit so hard as they are where a lot of us started our musical journey with Turner. With a few technical glitches with his effects pedal board, this doesn’t stop The Sleeping Souls from taking the opportunity to have a mini jam session as Turner and his tech work out exactly what is going on. It’s not too long before we jump into “Photosynthesis”, “Out of Breath” and finally, “I Still Believe” which all three just kick us all into overdrive. With the back and forth for the entirety of the final song, we’re all at absolute maximum satisfaction. As Turner and the band depart the stage, the traditional “one more song!” starts to ring through The Tiv, and it’s only mere moments before they all take the stage once more to belt out the most epic encore of all.

As we are informed of Turners roots in the hardcore scene and his previous band Million Dead, he cracks straight into “Non Serviam” from the afore mentioned album FTHC, which brings the crowd to absolute fever pitch. “Polaroid Picture” garners an epic sing-along and is drawn out to make it especially brilliant. Finishing the encore in typical FTHC style, Matt Nasir starts the piano introduction for “Four Simple Words”, which then brings Turner to lead into it with his best ballet performance with pirouettes a plenty, before it lulls and then screams full tilt into the punk rock brilliance, we’re so familiar with. Leaping into the crowd with microphone in hand, this is crowd interaction at its finest. We’re all left with the satisfaction of seeing the full-scale version of what we had a taste of back in March, simply amazing.

We all depart The Tiv knowing tomorrow that we will be hard of hearing, voiceless and so very, very sore tomorrow. Was it worth it? HELL FUCKING YES IT WAS! I’m going to make the claim right now, but this was the gig of the year. If you missed out, I feel bad for you. But there’s always next time. I suggest you don’t miss out next time the FTHC train comes Down Under

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
Australia 2023 Tour
with Mom Jeans & Emily Barker
Tour Dates:

Sunday 26 November – The Forum, Melbourne

Tuesday 28 November – Astor Theatre, Perth

Wednesday 29 November – Hindley St Music Hall, Adelaide