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Square Peg City: Frank Turner and Joel Plaskett Live

[excerpt] “Plaskett, cloaked in workingman’s denim from head-to-toe, along with The Emergency juxtaposed the one-man, one-guitar vibe of Turner’s performance with crunching chords and bouncy rhythm to open their set. The crowd was game, the answer to that earlier question a resounding yes.

“Frank Turner was killer,” said Plaskett at one point, acknowledging, and embracing, the impact of his tour mate’s set.

It’s clear the band has found a complementary companion in the ever-touring Turner. They deliver their own version of a hard-work-trumps-hubris approach to songwriting and performing: they’re promoting the release of Scrappy Happiness, an ambitious album that saw the group record 10 singles in 10 weeks, with most of the process shared warts-and-all and as-it-happened via Plaskett’s website.

When Plaskett delivered the opening line to You’re Mine from Scrappy Happiness—“Let’s make a record for the old and young”—it felt like an invitation, albeit after the fact, for fans everywhere to get involved with the record’s creation. The sea of bobbing heads and syncing lips in the Garrick suggested that many already had. Powering their way through the tune were Plaskett’s vocals, which pierce the air but never sound piercing.

The Emergency left the stage after a few songs so Plaskett could slow things down with some solo work and acoustic guitar. At this point, he uncorked his imagination as he took the audience on one trip after another across Canada, over to the UK and back, with tales: of possibly ripped-off melodies, (a cautionary one about) buying used wheels from fellow rockers Sloan, and lyrical imagery that can only be the work of a man who seldom puts his pen down or turns his mind off.

“From my neck of the woods in the Maritimes to you, in Winnipeg,” said Plaskett, inviting the crowd to assist him with the poignant Love This Town.”

Jeremy Brooks, Square Peg City

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