Turner made a major change in this year's festival. For the first time, he brought his night of music outside of London. Considered his past connection with Boston, this may have been logical host. (Turner also performed a solo show two nights before at a small club, City Winery, apart from the festival).
Turner headlined each show with completely new line-ups hand-picked by Turner. On this evening, he was solo acoustic, preceded by three other acts on the main stage and four acoustic singers on a side stage inside the venue's restaurant. There were also panels each day about the music industry.
Performing without a band behind him, it was all squarely on Turner, and he had no problem commanding the stage with his music, most pleasant vocals or stage banter. Turner played songs from 10 of his albums with one cover, a heartfelt take of Frightened Rabbit's "The Modern Leper."
Turner has a folky sometimes punky approach to his music. He's of fine vocal form with a batch of songs that the uninitiated could hum and sway along to no problem. And even though he flubbed a few songs lyrically, Turner was a down-to-earth fresh breath of musical air.
Turner had plenty of help though from the fans. On song after song, they sang with much fervor.
Turner deserves much credit for not only helping put these evenings together, but more importantly for doing things a lot differently and easily pulling it off.
Loudon Wainwright III, who preceded Turner, has retained his fun sense of humor decades along. About the most humorous part was when he read from his autobiography about how he lost Grammys twice to dead people (Steve Goodman both times), but eventually took home the trophy in 2010.
Wainwright was most charming, seemingly surprised he would be able to play to such a big crowd from his usual small club gigs.
Jenny Young Owens also brought the humor, although with a bit of a hyper presence, hers was more of the quirky variety. Fortunately, she had songs that worth a listen.
Local artist Haley Thompson-King opened with a sound that was on the punkier/retro side. She also had the most musically divergent song of the night by far with an operatic-based number.
As for the acoustic singers on the side stage, satisfying enough, but no one hit it out of the park. Irish native Jinty McGrath who now lives in Boston, had a full-bodied voice, but he opted for a set heavy with well-known songs as covers. Pittsburgh native Paul Luc was a bit Springsteenesque in his delivery, singing with conviction. Micah Schnabel, from Columbus, Ohio and singer of Two Cow Garage, was probably more poet than singer with a big personality.