Frank Turner Turned Lemon Into Lemonade, Turning A Canceled Saturday Night Bomb Factory Show Into A Memorable Saturday Afternoon Three Links Throwdown.
All photos by Mike Brooks.
Dallas-area fans of smart songwriting were supposed to be in for a treat this past Saturday night as Jason Isbell and Frank Turner, along with their respective backing bands The 400 Unit and The Sleeping Souls, were set to play a packed gig at The Bomb Factory.
Alas, those dreams were dashed on Friday afternoon when it was announced that Isbell’s band would be taking a break from touring after one of their band members experienced a death in the family, with the gig getting rescheduled for January 5, 2018.
While that scheduling shift meant disappointment for fans of the bands, it crated a bit of a logistical problem for the English performer Turner, who couldn’t realistically just re-route his band’s visit to the States.
Come 6 p.m. on Friday night, though, Deep Ellum venue Three Links, Dallas promotions company Margin Walker and Turner’s own team came up with a solution: With pretty much every viable Dallas venue already booked solid for Saturday night, Turner and the Sleeping Souls would play a small spur-of-the-moment gig on Saturday afternoon in the 250-capacity Deep Ellum space. Word spread fast, too, with tickets to the gig sold out come Saturday morning — not much of a surprise considering that Turner was originally supposed to play a room about 20 times the size later that night, but impressive nonetheless.
Not quite as impressive as the aplomb Turner, his band and his production team flashed at this impromtu offering, though. It was a testament to the professionalism of a band that’s got more than 2,000 shows under its belt, and to the age-old sentiment that the show must go on.
And boy did it: For two hours and more than 20 songs, and with the sun still shining bright, Turner and his agile band made the best of an unfortunate situation, captivating this nuts-to-butts space with the kind of show that’s too rarely seen nowadays — a bare-bones effort that highlighted musical chops, songwriting mettle and stage presence above all else.
In front of his crack band, Turner was the consummate showman, a master of ceremonies that this crowd — a collection of die-hards, among them Bowling For Soup frontman Jaret Reddick, who were utterly floored at the chance to see one of their musical heroes and all too eager to sing along to each lyric Turner asked them to — couldn’t resist.
It helped, perhaps, that Turner and the gang pulled out some parlor tricks for the festivities. First, he goaded his lighting technician into crowd-surfing from the sound stage to the bar and back. Later, Turner himself made his way to the bar top, too, where he turned heads with a stage-dive of his own.
But, perhaps given the surprise nature of this sweaty, rowdy and loud performance, these elements felt more authentic than campy — including the final moments of the offering, as the band waved its goodbyes and drummer Nigel Powell leaned out above the crowd to hand off his drumsticks to a young female fan who had watched this, her very first concert, from her father’s shoulders, in awe of every second.
Turner, for his part, was impressed, too.
“When we do things like this, people are always like, ‘Wow, this is so cool, Frank,'” the singer-songwriter said at one point. “But the people who pulled this off were my crew, the booking agents and the venue staff.”
He was right to give credit there: For all that could’ve gone wrong with a set thrown together at the very last minute, everything went remarkably right on this day. Drinks were served in speedy fashion, no one had trouble getting in and out of the crowded space, and Turner’s own team handled the close confines of the setting like old pros. On all levels, it was a stellar display.
On that much, everyone seemed in agreement. After the set, that young, new Sleeping Souls fan for life could be seen hugging those drumsticks she received as seemingly ever other fan in the place found an excuse to linger around the venue, too. Seems no one, not even the band, was ready for this objectively special offering to end. For more than an hour, as performers for the scheduled night offering at Three Links began loading in the gear for their own concert, Turner was out front posing for pictures with fans. Powell, meanwhile, eventually made his way out to the back patio to greet the recipient of his drumsticks and to sign her gift.
Following that moment, that young fan’s family had to ensure her that not all concerts she’d attend in the future would turn out to be as great and special as this one was.
If only, though. If only.