Flogging Molly & Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – Maine State Pier, Portland, Maine, August 26, 2016

The weather was clear as I parked my car and made my way down to the pier but within a half hour of being there storm clouds were threatening. By the time the first act, Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls, came on stage, the rain was upon us, sometimes in a drizzle, sometimes in a steady fall. This was a hard show to shoot as in between each frame you had to wipe the rain drops off your filter, and photographers like myself who need to wear glasses had twice the issues as my glasses kept fogging up – after several attempts, I took them off and hoped for the best. Another thing that was a bit of an issue this evening, and for any evening at the Maine State Pier was the height of the stage. At roughly six feet, the stage is a challenge but for this show there were two foot monitors lining the front, making it rather hard to get full body shots, shots of the drummer, or anybody else who wanted to hang in the back away from the rain blowing into the stage.

I had never heard of Frank Turner before this show and found it strange that so many people at the show had Frank Turner shirts prior to him even hitting the stage. I would later leave a fan of his work. Frank Turner’s style and music reminded me a bit of Billy Bragg who I have been a fan of since sometime in the mid-eighties, and it made me question, what rock have I been hiding under?

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls played a great energetic set, which was just what the soaking wet audience needed to keep them going. Toward the end of the evening, Frank with his 200 foot microphone cable, jumped into the audience and made his way to the back of the venue where he climbed up and crowd surfed his way back to the stage. Security later told me, “He didn’t even tell us he was going to do that.”

After Frank’s set I was a bit bummed to see some of the audience leaving. Flogging Molly is such a fun band and to miss the opportunity to see them live is a tragedy. That said, even the weather couldn’t keep away the true fans, and the venue still remained nearly full.

The break between the two acts was short, but still long enough for the rain to go from on and off to a steady fall. I found myself pressed up against the stage trying to keep as much rain off my lens as possible. Some of the photographers there chose not to shoot this evening’s performance, afraid of ruining their equipment, but wrapping my camera as best I could in plastic I persevered and walked away with enough images to make it worthwhile.

This being my third time shooting Flogging Molly, I knew that the band would deliver a great performance, and that was exactly what they did. The band ripped through their set with vigor and energy. Toward the end of the set, the skies gave up trying to dampen the spirits, and as the rain coats, plastic trash bags, and other wet weather wear were tossed, the show came to an end. As the audience made their way out of the venue, a few of the band members jumped down and joined the remaining fans, where they took photos and signed items, as well as handed out a few guitar picks and the set lists.

It was at this point that I connected with guitarist Dennis Casey. Dennis and I have been in contact over the past couple of years since we both play through a small boutique amp company out of California called Satellite Amplification. He had left me an All Access pass but due to a mix-up at the front office I was only given a Photo pass. This seemed to upset him more than me, and he grabbed his iPhone to show me that indeed he put me down for an All Access pass. He then invited me back to the dressing trailer for a Guinness. There I connected with the other members of the band and some of the family of Matt Hensley, Flogging Molly’s accordion player, who spent some years as a youth in Maine and still has many family members living here. I was invited to join them for dinner, drinks, and an impromptu jam session was said to maybe take place. I passed on dinner as it was seafood, and although I live here in Maine I don’t eat seafood. Ironically Matt was in the same boat, so I hung out with him and his family at a local Irish watering hole, RiRa’s. Upon returning from dinner, we – Dennis, Matt, Matt’s family, some of the crew and myself – moved inside where Dennis and Matt began playing some traditional Irish songs. One of Matt’s family members borrowed a couple spoons from the kitchen and joined in on percussion. A bit later, bassist Nathen Maxwell and drummer Mike Alonso also joined the bar. Singer, Dave King, and his wife, violinist, Bridget Regan, were not far behind, and before long there was a great little jam session. Mike found a five gallon plastic bucket and some drum sticks, Dave found another set of spoons, and then it was on. The band played for maybe 40 – 50 minutes and closed the bar.

Photo opportunities in the bar were there although it was quite dark, but by then I was off the clock – I was there to enjoy the company and the music. I did snap a couple of frames but got nothing to write home about. However I did get a great experience and made some new friends.

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls Setlist:

I Still Believe – The Next Storm – Try This at Home – Recovery – Long Live the Queen – Father’s Day – The Way I Tend to Be – Out of Breath – Photosynthesis – Get Better – Four Simple Words

Flogging Molly setlist:

The Hand of John L. Sullivan – Drunken Lullabies – (No More) Paddy’s Lament – Man With No Country – The Worst Day Since Yesterday – Life in a Tenement Square – Saint & Sinners – Requiem for a Dying Song – Revolution – Float – Tobacco Island – Salty Dog – What’s Left of the Flag – If I Ever Leave This World Alive

Encore: The Seven Deadly Sins

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