Concert Review: Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

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It’s a Friday night at The Powerstation and the crowd is starting to pack in as Emily Barker takes the stage with Luke who was playing alongside her. The lights come on and a bright pale blue light lit her from behind. It was quite beautiful and almost angelic. It suited her music that’s for sure. They travelled from Bridgetown in Southwest Australia and it was their first time here. It was sad that the crowd was talking quite loudly as I think people should have just listened. Emily’s vocals were strong and incredible. She held notes beautifully and harmonised well with Luke. There was even the occasional bit of harmonica which she played as it was mounted to her guitar.  Emily performed songs off her album Sweet Kind of Blue which she created in Memphis. One of the songs she performed Fields of June features Frank Turner but Luke was taking on that role tonight “no pressure“. But he did a great job in front of “Frank’s crowd“. Another song she spoke to the crowd about was a song written from one of Sister Rosetta Park’s best friends’ point of view Sister Goodbye. Sister Rosetta Park is a huge inspiration to Emily and was a trailblazer in her time who broke down barriers. Yet she was buried in an unmarked grave and has been slowly forgotten but Emily wanted to help keep her memory alive. It was beautiful. Before they dived into their last song, they thanked the crowd and Emily said she would come meet everyone at merch. Luke then encouraged the crowd to help with percussion to help the set finish of strong. It was an incredible set and I definitely think more people need to know who Emily Barker is.

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The crowd was between 1/2 – 3/4z packed in at this point as The Hard Aches took the stage. The Hard Aches are made up of Ben Clennett on guitar & lead vocals and Alex Upton on drums & backing vocals. “This is our 1st time so be easy on us“. I would describe their music as a mix of indie and punk. More on the punk side. “We’re beyond stoked to be here, especially with our old friend Frank Turner“. They played songs off their new album Mess including Warm Blooded. “This is for you guys cause you’re better than us Australians“. Ben also mentioned how they used to walk out to Bic Runga ‘Sway’, he has a Bic Runga tattoo and if anyone has her number, they should let her know about him. I give him props for trying. To mix the set up they bought out Emily Barker to perform ‘Happy’ with them.

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Her melodic voice accompanied their raw punk vocals well but Emily occasionally broke her voice a bit to keep that punk element. “So that’s when the set peaks. We’ll hopefully be back next year“. Ben then spoke briefly on mental health and dedicated the last song ‘I Get Like This’ to the people who suffer with mental health. It was definitely a strong song to go out to and really helped lead into the crazy set ahead. 


 Finally, the moment everyone was waiting for.  The crowd had really packed in at this point. The intro music played and The Sleeping Souls made their way out 1st then Frank Turner came out and they dived straight into the 1st track 1933. All were dressed quite formally in black and whites. Interrupting the show, after performing Get Better, he let the crowd know what’s to come. “This is a punk show and there’s 2 rules: 1. Don’t be an asshole. 2. If you know the words then sing-a-long“. There was such high energy from the whole band and the crowd reflected that.

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The crowd followed rule #2 well and sang-a-long loudly. “Punk rock shows are about singing and dancing together”. Frank was screaming out the words with everything he had, though it was clear that the amount of travel was taking its toll a bit “It’s a Saturday night in Auckland! Friday night! Friday! I’m really fucking jet-lagged“.
Frank then went on to give facts about Auckland and talk about Wellington. The talk about Wellington was clearly to get the crowd angry and vocal. “I’m talking complete shit”.

They then dived into Brave face. The lighting added to the show, it was bold and matched each song well. Frank then touched on how the next song features a gospel choir but it’s too expensive to tour a choir around the world so the crowd need to do it, “The Auckland Gospel Choir”. The crowd agreed and they dove into Plain Sailing Weather. After playing The Way I Tend To Be, they played Be More Kind, which is the title of his most recent album. Frank asked the crowd to turn their phone lights on and it was “fucking beautiful”.
I like that Frank spoke a bit every few songs. It felt more like banter with a friend. He also called the crowd “friends” rather than fans or using the city/country name which made the show feel even more intimate. Though he had heard that “not everyone is from New Zealand” to which about a third of the crowd acknowledged. He then acknowledged those who hadn’t seen him live before “the newcomers” and thanked the crew.
Before playing the next song, he let the crowd know the show doesn’t have to be all about the recently released music and kicked off the track Eulogy. The crowd was very into it and clapped along.

Amongst the crowd was Franks friend Ed. He spoke about how it was great to see him and as he started to play the track Wessex Boy, he let the crowd know Ed was there for all of this. Frank performed the song solo with an acoustic guitar and The Sleeping Souls took a break. The solo continued for the next song as well, Josh’s Song. The crowd fell completely quiet. It was quite emotional as Frank explained it was about friends who took their lives. It was a beautiful and heavy moment.
But The Sleeping Souls returned to help pick everyone back up. After playing a few more tracks, the played Photosynthesis then departed the stage but if you are an avid concert-goer, you know what’s happening. And without a doubt, after an encore chant Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls returned. Frank told the crowd ending tours in NZ & Australia has become somewhat habitual and it’s nice. The encore consisted of four songs. During Four Simple Words Frank crowd surfed and even told everyone to grab a dance partner. He grabbed his bass player who obliged briefly and then rejected him “he turned me down, will you have me”. 

The time had finally come for the ACTUAL last song. “This song is about taking care of those you care about”. “Respectfully put your arm around the stranger next to you and sway”. The crowd cooperated and you could just see the smiles and positivity light up the room as they kicked off Polaroid.
As they finished he thanked the opening acts, the crew, The Powerstation and friends. They finished the night right and got “The Auckland Gospel Choir” to help out one last time “Sing as loud as you can”.

The outro music played and they departed the stage.  I have to admit, I didn’t know Frank’s music super well before the show and when he said it was going to be a punk show, I was hesitant. But it really was. Frank got down in the barrier, he crowd surfed and even got a circle pit going. It was crazy. They had such great energy and you really did just want to mosh and party. It was such a positive experience that I managed to get my sister to go to the Brisbane show the following night and she really enjoyed it. If you can I recommend seeing Frank Turner live! 

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 Setlist (Show 2286): 

Get Better 

Little Changes
The Next Storm 

Brave Face
Plain Sailing Weather 

The Way I Tend To Be
Be More Kind 

If Ever I Stray
Try This At Home
The Road
Glory Hallelujah 

Wessex Boy
The Angel IslingtonSolo
Song For Josh
The Ballad Of Me And My Friends 

I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
Out Of Breath

Don’t Worry
I Still Believe
Four Simple Words
Polaroid Picture (songbook) 


– Reviewed and Photographed by Shelley Te Haara


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