A music venue, oddly, seems the wrong outlet for tonight’s show – you really need an open highway, a keg of beer and a pick-up truck to really compliment the sound. Openers Deer Tick channel this perfectly, kicking up sawdust with the Teenage Fanclub-esque ‘The Curtain’ and ‘These Old Shoes’. They, alas, can’t keep up the quality (‘Twenty Miles’ steers dangerously close to Uncle Kracker territory), but a closing cover of ‘La Bamba’ makes sure they leave a lasting impression.
It’s The Gaslight Anthem the sold-out crowd are here to see, and as singer Brian Fallon strides onto the stage, the audience burst forward in a flood of flannel. Opening with stone-cold classic ‘The ’59 Sound’, fans bulge veins as they shout back every word. Lunging straight into ‘Handwritten’, it’s amazing just how far Fallon and co have come – their heart-on-sleeve, ass-on-bar lyrics, channelled through Springsteen, Buffalo Tom and many more, have a startling connection with so many people, and tonight, to the likes of the pounding ‘American Slang’ and the finger-pickin’ good ‘Great Expectations’, their legions of fans sing with true passion.
Fallon’s signature voice, a lovelorn howl coated in sandpaper, is top notch as he belts out the reflective ’45’ and the stomping ‘Film Noir’. Their latest album, Get Hurt, once more established them as everyone’s favourite blue-collar rock band, but they don’t give it much attention – aside from the rousing ‘1,000 Years’ and a smattering of other songs (first single ‘Rollin and Tumblin’ has tumbled out the set), it’s all about the classics.
A cover of ‘House of the Rising Sun’ is feverishly greeted, and as they leave with a closing ‘The Backseat’, everyone doffs their flat caps as Fallon and co depart, presumably to the nearest saloon.
I once pretended to be the Jarmans' long-lost cousin.
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