Frank Turner doesn’t need a band to rock the house at Free At Noon - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Avid fans of XPN’s Free At Noon are likely to be well acquainted with about five seconds of Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up,” whose chugging riff serves as the brief theme song for the show. There’s never a bad time to hear a little Costello, but serving as the walkout music for folk-punk hero Frank Turner, it’s never felt more appropriate. Playing a collection of oi-punk anthems to a sold-out crowd, Turner’s performance conjured up memories of the early days of punk rock, stuff like Elvis Costello, The Modern Lovers, Cock Sparrer, and John Otway (a first-wave punk with a cult following who Turner shouted out at the end of his track “Show People.”) In a sleeveless band tee (shoutout to The Meffs!) that showed off two full arms of tattoos, Turner looked the part and sounded the part of an original punk rocker.

Frank Turner | photo by Paige Walter for WXPN

“I’m not really sure why you’re here… it’s free, I suppose,” Turner said to the audience as he geared up to play his first song. He implored the audience to sing along to his new song “Do Something,” the first of a few times that Turner would lead the audience in a big sing-along chorus, though he never needed to. Despite his cheeky self-deprecation, Turner is a bonafide rock star, and the audience was shouting the anthemic choruses of his songs back to him whether he asked them to or not. Following his ear-wormy “Girl From The Record Shop,” which, if it weren’t for a reference to Descendents’ Everything Sux, would sound like it was plucked directly from the early 70s, Turner mused, “you guys are hired” amid the ecstatic cheers of a packed house.

Turner has to know he’s a rockstar, but his humble persona never feels put on; maybe it’s the stripped-down instrumental palette of nothing more than an acoustic guitar and Turner’s voice, or maybe it’s his effortless on-stage charisma. Listening to Turner talk about all that goes into his lyrics, telling stories of old loves and new obsessions, you get the sense that Turner loves being a musician just as much as he loves talking about DB Cooper conspiracies, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” and Korn’s debut record, which he insists “still slaps.” Nowadays, the art of between-song-banter seems largely forgotten, and musicians who love to monologue on stage usually get a bad rap, but personally, I could listen to Turner ramble for hours. If he ever gets tired of music, I’ll be waiting on his stand-up comedy tour.

Frank Turner’s energy is truly singular; I’m tempted to say he belongs in a massive arena, where his larger-than-life choruses can be shouted back at him by thousands, but Turner’s too down-to-earth for that. Or maybe he’s too punk for it. Either way, World Cafe Live was the perfect fit for Turner’s act, which feels (maybe paradoxically) punk-rock and coffee-shop all at once. You can catch him in Philly again at the Fillmore with a full band; just be ready to shout your heart out.

Related Content
View All Related Content

No news added recently