“To the east, to the east, the road beneath my feet.
To the west, to the west, I haven’t got there yet.
To the north, to the north, never to be caught.
To the south, to the south, my time is running out.”
– Frank Turner, The Road
When one of your favourite musicians comes to town, you have to go, right? Of course you do! And when he’s not just in the town you’re visiting, but in another city that’s a mere 12 hour bus ride away, you also go, right? No? But why not?
Yes, I did this. I took a little break from tramping down ‘the road beneath my feet’ and indulged in a couple of days of rock ‘n’ roll. First, a full day’s bus journey took me from Wellington to Auckland, where I spent a day with my friends and went to see Frank Turner in the evening. Then I flew back to Wellington the next day to see him again that night!
This sounds a bit crazy, but I tend to get a bit obsessive over bands or music that I really love, and Frank falls into that category. Songs like ‘The Road’, ‘If Ever I Stray’ have lyrics that I can relate to and then there’s ‘I Still Believe’, which is an ode to rock ‘n’ roll that just makes me want to get up and dance. His songs are melodic and sing-able and everything I want music to be. But because I travel so much, I’m almost never in the same country as him, so when the opportunity to see him twice came along, I knew I had to do it!
This is far, far from the first time I’ve done something like this.
I’ve been to see my other favourite band, Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, numerous times, sometimes driving 6 or 8 hours to the show and seeing them 3 or 4 nights in a row. I’ve gone down to Mexico several times for their long weekend of music, fish tacos and friends. And when they toured the UK I followed them around there, seeing them 11 times in 12 days. It sounds nuts, and maybe it is, but it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I’ve even travelled to see Frank once before, in Saigon in March 2013. He was playing a solo show on a Sunday night, so I flew down to Saigon Friday evening and spent the weekend with my friends there. They came to the show with me on Sunday, and then Monday morning I caught an early flight back to Hanoi and went straight to work. It was madness, and totally worth it. Ever since then I’ve wanted to see him with his full band, the Sleeping Souls.
And so I did, and it was fantastic. The first night in Auckland my friend Ha came with me and we got up as close to the front as we could, close enough to have a great view of Frank and the opener Jon Snodgrass and the back of some girl’s head.
Frank and Jon are longtime friends who wrote an album together in four hours, so it was only natural that Frank would join Jon on stage both nights. The feeling was incredibly relaxed, like two buddies just having fun playing together and telling stories.
Then Jon left, the Sleeping Souls came out, and the place went nuts with them playing all my favourite songs, both old and new and everything in between. A couple of times the band left the stage and Frank performed solo for a while, only to welcome the boys back for more.
There’s an incredible amount of energy generated by Frank Turner and his band. He really knows how to interact with his audience and it’s an intense show, the audience screaming the words to every song right back at him.
On the second night in Wellington things were a little bit different. I got myself a spot right up front and centre, in a smaller venue with a crowd packed in so tight that I almost got pushed right into Frank when he played a particularly lively song.
There wasn’t even room for the band to leave the stage, so they sat down and had a little rest right there while Frank performed his solo stuff!
When the time came for the show to ‘end’ and for them all to leave the stage, only to come back for an encore, Frank told us that it just couldn’t happen because it was too crowded and they just kept right on playing.
I left the second show with a mixture of feelings. Euphoric, on a high from all the energy of the show, but sad that it was over, wondering when I might get another chance to see this man play live. I was excited about the discovery of Jon Snodgrass and his music, tired from jumping all around and, like always after a show, definitely more than a little bit raspy-voiced.
So am I crazy? I don’t think so. Right from the moment he scheduled these shows I knew I’d be going to both. It was a long way to go to Auckland and back, and on the bus going up there I was definitely questioning the wisdom of the 12 hour bus ride, but it was totally worth it. I had a great time! When you’re passionate about something and you have the chance to do it, don’t think about it, just do it!
Have you ever taken time out from your travels for something you’re passionate about? What was it? Have you ever followed a band/musician/entertainer around as I have? What was your experience like?