“Good evening Ottawa, how you fucking doing?” The sold out Ritual crowd erupted to Frank Turner’s question and it was only the beginning.
England’s Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls opened with one of their many perfect sing-a-long songs “Photosynthesis,” setting the stage for the night. “Welcome to show 1509,” said Turner. “We are here to sing, dance and have a fucking good time. Tonight we prove that we are all friends and equals.” The Ottawa crowd was certainly with him, I don’t think he sang a single word alone all night.
Turner usually has a guitar strapped on while performing live but on this tour he is just singing. He clarified the reason for this with the crowd. “You might have noticed I am not playing guitar. I do not have a Michael Bolton complex, I fucked my back really badly earlier this year. The doctor told me to cancel every show I had left this year… I cried and then came up with an alternative, hire a guitarist.” With his girdle firmly in place, he was definitely not showing any signs of pain on stage. He was jumping all over the place, dancing, and even crowd surfed for a bit (see picture above). God bless ya Frank.
The boys from England played a wonderful set, spanning an hour and 45 minutes. Yes, you read that correctly. They played a ton of songs in that time and pulled from several of Frank’s albums. I loved that they dug deep and played “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous,” off an earlier album and they also played one of my favourites as well, “Glory Hallelujah.” There is something special about a few hundred people clapping and singing “there is no God.” But one of the coolest moments was when Turner took to the stage alone for the first song of the encore and said “on this tour I want to play regional covers, so if you promise not to tell the doctor, I would like to play a Jim Bryson song.” With the help of a human teleprompter, a fan holding the lyrics, Turner played a wicked version of Bryson’s “Satellite.” The rest of the band rejoined him and they closed the night with “I Still Believe” and “Four Simple Words.” What a show, I am very sorry if you missed out.
Before Frank Turner was a very talented and entertaining band emerging from Toronto. July Talk blew me away once again. They make me think of a bizarre situation where if a younger Tom Waits fell in love and started a rock and roll band with a feisty little blond as his vocal partner. Singer and guitarist, Peter Dreimanis, has a real raspy rock and roll voice that can only be achieved I imagine by gargling razor blades and smoking 10 packs a day… and I loved every minute of it. Pair that with, Leah Fay, as a blonde vixen on vocals as well and you have quite the group. Their on stage chemistry can be compared to Exene Cervenka and John Doe of X. As you can see in the picture, they are not afraid to strangle, push, roughhouse and joke around with each other during the set, or even mid-song. The band was fired up and egging on the crowd. “Not a lot of you are dancing,” said Dreimanis. “If you think because it is a Monday night and the fact that you work in the morning is an excuse to stand still, you are sadly mistaken.” They got the crowd moving and ready for Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls with some great tunes like “The Garden,” a real rocking new song called “My Neck,” and their big hit “Paper Girl.”
Unfortunately for me I missed most of Billy the Kid‘s set. What I did hear was beautiful soft-folk music from a great singer-songwriter from Vancouver. I know that I will be sure not to miss her next time she rolls through town.