Live Review: Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls with Beans on Toast and Skinny Lister at the Press Room, Phoenix, AZ – 25th October 2015

By on Tuesday, 3rd November 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Hard-working troubadour Frank Turner and his dedicated band the Sleeping Souls have just wrapped up a full American tour, following the summer release of Turner’s new album ‘Positive Songs for Negative People’. The American tour ended on a bit of an anticlimactic note in New Orleans last week as Turner and two of his bandmates suffered food poisoning and were forced to cancel their final show, but their gig in Phoenix on the previous Sunday night was more successful, with a lively and receptive crowd turning up early at downtown venue the Press Room to catch support acts Beans on Toast and Skinny Lister ahead of Turner’s headline set.

Beans 1

Essex singer/songwriter Beans on Toast (known offstage as Jay McAllister) came on stage without delay and warmed up the still-arriving crowd with an engaging acoustic set of narrative tunes that were by turns personal and political, comical and caustic. From his vantage point at the front of the stage, McAllister drew in the eager audience with a brief commentary on American culture in the form of a song called ‘The Great American Novel’, from his upcoming new album ‘Rolling Up the Hill’. A handful of older Beans on Toast songs were also well-received, particularly the interactive sing along ‘Fuck You Nashville’; though only a few hardy Frank Turner fans were familiar with the tune from previous shows, the rest of us learned the critical chorus line quickly enough to join in.

SL 1

After a brief lull in the action, folk-punk collective Skinny Lister enthusiastically took the stage, bringing their customary whisky jug along to share with the “21 and over” portion of the audience. Opening with songs from their recent album ‘Down on Deptford Broadway’, Skinny Lister quite frankly stole the show, their high energy exceeding what was to come later from Turner and the Souls.

Beginning with ‘Raise a Wreck’ and the incorrigible ‘Trouble on Oxford Street’ before breaking into ‘George’s Glass’ and ‘Cathy’, the band interspersed their established crowd-pleasers with a couple of yet-to-be recorded songs, including an especially charming one called ‘Colours’. Lest the presence of an accordion trick anyone into thinking that these were a sedate group of folk musicians, Skinny Lister ultimately proved their rock-‘n’ roll prowess with a rousing performance of ‘This Is War’, ending their set with frontwoman Lorna Thomas triumphantly climbing atop Michael Camino’s personalised double bass. In red heels.

Turner and the Sleeping Souls were able to capitalize on Skinny Lister’s unbounded enthusiasm in the opening section of their three-part set, bursting onto the stage with uptempo belters ‘Get Better’ and ‘The Next Storm’. Promising a mix of songs from throughout his career, Turner plowed through ‘Losing Days’ and ‘Josephine’ before the Souls left him alone onstage for the second, solo section of the show.

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This middle section is where the true, diehard Frank Turner fans no doubt found their greatest joy, as Turner plucked his way through a few forgotten gems. ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’ was warmly received, as was newer favourite ‘The Way I Tend To Be’, but for my money, this section was a bit overly drawn out, and I was surprised by the rather flat solo version of ‘Glorious You’, which was gloriously anthemic in its recording on ‘Positive Songs for Negative People’.

The Sleeping Souls rejoined Turner for the final section of the show, which rallied the punters’ energy with hit tunes ‘Photosynthesis’, ‘Recovery’ and ‘I Still Believe’, but never quite regained the momentum lost in the previous half hour. I was mildly disappointed that neither ‘Love Forty Down’ nor ‘Silent Key’ appeared in the set on this night, but Turner did touch one last time on ‘Positive Songs’ when he reached the encore, captivating the restless crowd with a stunning performance of ‘Song for Josh’. Once he had our rapt attention, Turner quickly amped up the energy with ‘Try This at Home’ and closed the show on a more characteristic high note with the ‘Four Simple Words’ we were all desperately waiting to dance to.

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Beans on Toast will release his new album ‘Rolling Up the Hill’ in December 2015 via Xtra Mile Recordings. A list of dates for his upcoming November tour of the UK can be found on his official Web site. Frank Turner and Skinny Lister will begin their tour of the UK this week, accompanied by fellow Xtra Mile artist Will Varley; you can find listings of those live dates here and here. TGTF’s full archive of coverage on Frank Turner can be found by clicking here, and our previous coverage of Skinny Lister is right back here.

Frank Turner setlist (setlist photo by Carlos Gonzalez)

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