Frank Turner

Review + Gallery: Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls, Murder By Death, The Arkells and Will Varley in Philadelphia, PA

Frank Turner and his merry band of music makers (also known as the best backing band in the world, The Sleeping Souls) hit up Philadelphia on January 20th as part of yet another tour of North America.

Anytime Mr. Turner is on tour, he always has some great opening acts, and this tour is no change. Will Varley, a fellow Brit, kicked off the evening with his folksy solo set. Vocally reminiscent of Marcus Mumford, Varley was mellow yet very engaging. In between songs, he joked that his songs were kind of depressing (re” “Weddings & Wars”) and later confessed that he had his first cheesesteak that night and it made him feel like he was on drugs an hour in (then he sipped on some Yuengling). He closed his set with “King for a King”.

Second on the bill for the evening were the Canadian band Arkells, who will sometimes headline and sometimes support on this tour. Having never listened to them prior to Friday, I have no idea what songs they played; I only know they were fun as shit. During the second song of their set, lead vocalist Max Kerman jumped up on and then over the barricade to sing in the crowd. Towards the end of their set, they pulled someone up out of the audience (I’m assuming they knew him) to play guitar. (If not, awesome job random person!)

Murder By Death were the third band up and good god y’all, I just loved them to pieces. Though they stated they were going for “dark and depressing”, I felt light and happy throughout their time on stage. Again, I live in a bubble and had never listened to the band prior to that night, but the combination of storytelling through song and cello as a main instrument, I’m buying all their albums now.

Last, but certainly not least, Frank Turner took to the stage solo. He opened up with a new song, “Sand in the Gears” stating, “What a day it is to be an American, eh?” (The song was pitch perfect for Friday, and for the next 4 years.) The Sleeping Souls came out for the second song, “The Next Storm” with Will Varley popping in to support on harmonica during “I Still Believe”. After “Long Live the Queen”, and just before “Glorious You”, Mr. Turner let the audience in a group dance that consisted of nothing but jazz hands. (Don’t ask.)

Just before “Photosynthesis” he brought up a young lady from the audience (it turned out it was her birthday, so he sang the “Happy Birthday” song to her) and had her crowd surf. However, it wasn’t just regular crowd surfing. Oh no, he gave her various points in the crowd to hit. It was more of a crowd surfing scavenger hunt. After this, he told the crowd that he, sadly, had 2 pieces of bad news: one, that the show was ending, and 2) he woke up that morning from his dream of being the guitar player for Slayer. (I guess rock stars have big dreams, just like the rest of us.) Before going into “Love Ire & Song”, he told us that “punk rock won’t save us, but we can do something to help—by being at a show, you are part of a community and communities can take care of each other, so let’s do a wall of hugs, instead of a wall of death”. “Get Better” and “Four Simple Words” were the final two songs of the evening.

* all photos by Anni Kellam

Remaining Frank Turner North America Tour Dates:

January 27, 2017 – Scottsdale, AZ – Livewire
January 28, 2017 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern
January 29, 2017 – San Francisco, CA – The Warfield Theatre
January 31, 2017 – Portland, OR, – Wonder Ballroom
February 1, 2017 – Vancouver, BC, Canada – Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre
February 3, 2017 – Edmonton, AB, Canada – Shaw Conference Centre
February 4, 2017- Calgary, AB, Canada – BMO Centre at Calgary Stampede
February 6, 2017 – Saskatoon, SK, Canada – Grand Stage, Prairieland Park
February 7, 2017 – Winnipeg, MB, Canada – Centennial Concert Hall
February 10, 2017 – Hamilton, ON, Canada – First Ontario Centre
February 11, 2017 – Montreal, QC, Canada – Metropolis
February 13, 2017 – Ottawa, ON, Canada – TD Place Arena
February 14, 2017 – Moncton, NB, Canada – The Centre At Casino New Brunswick
February 15, 2017 – Halifax, NS, Canada – Scotiabank Centre
February 17, 2017 – New York, NY, USA – The Beacon Theatre
February 18, 2017 – Boston, MA, USA – Agganis Arena

For the other dates and locations outside of the USA and Canada, go here.


About Ann Kellam

Ann Kellam

EMAIL: [email protected]com
LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA

BIO: Music photographer, cat lover, and cookie baker. Huntington Beach native, now residing in Philly. If you’re a band passing through, I’ll take pretty pictures of you/your show, and (if asked) will even bring you cookies.


  1. re: Arkells – they didn’t know him! He just got lucky. He actually went to my high school and writes his own songs so they picked a good one!

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