MANHATTAN, NY—As a hard-working music journalist venturing out to the city that never sleeps, your choices are endless, even on a Wednesday night in the middle of a frigid winter. I heard The Gaslight Anthem was heading into our neck of the woods, getting tickets for night one of their three-night stint at Terminal 5. After getting past all of the Justin Bieber screamers at MSG, I made it there just in time to get in the second-tier balcony, the best seats in the house. I’ve seen them perform everywhere from festivals to arenas, but dynamism of their recordings always shines brightest in the small, intimate venues. With their signature black banner draping in the backline, New Jersey’s The Gaslight Anthem were welcomed onto the stage with a lurid applause and thousands of hands in the air. They are one of those bands that never disappoints, with a fresh list of songs each time. Even for a veteran concertgoer like myself, who has seen them a significant amount of times, it’s always a new show. Gaslight has established a dedicated following that has them stuffing every venue they play in. Aficionados, critics, and inquiring ears keep coming out because the band’s rigid, zealous rock and roll and raucous live shows make them the fieriest ticket in any town they play in. With only a few dates on this U.S. run, including Philadelphia and D.C., I made it a priority to catch them before Mr. Fallon takes some time off as he becomes a daddy.
The night kicked off in full force, with people rushing to get to the front of the stage. Lead singer Brian Fallon’s vocals were on point, more than ever, filling the room and enchanting the audience. Behind him, the band sounded as worthy, if not better, than they do on their records. All that the members of The Gaslight Anthem did, and had to do, was play their songs really well, and to be quite honest, that is all a music lover is looking for. No obscene production, no fireworks, for in my eyes, this is the definition of a real show; just some dudes from New Brunswick making good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll with enthralling lyrics.
They incorporated signature hits into their set including “59 Sound,” “American Slang,” and even their most current smash, “Here Comes My Man.” Everything in between was perfectly balanced from slower tunes to hard rock, like one of my favorites, “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues,” the smooth sounds of “The Queen Of Lower Chelsea,” along with bonus album track on Handwritten, “Blue Dahlia,” which was quite a treat, as I have yet to hear that track live. In fact, in the middle of it, a childish fight broke out in the crowd, where Brian pulled the plug and called the culprit out stating, “I have all the time in the world to wait for you to grow up.” The rock star moment of the year goes to Brian Fallon! Then, right back to business, without missing a beat. With candles burning on the amps, action figures staring the front row in the face and the band members joking amongst themselves on stage about the insane height of a random man in the crowd wearing that bright red Rutgers University t-shirt, the show felt like an intimate look at the band, almost like a filming of an unedited documentary. I think I can speak for every person in the room that we all felt like we were invited to an intimated party in the band’s living room.
I must admit, writing a live review of The Gaslight Anthem is somewhat complicated. They play incredibly hard each and every time, so yes, it can be hard to stay impartial. However, they will always give you an insane amount of positive content to rant on about. The band always finds the time to thank the crowd for coming out, but in reality, we should all be thanking them; not only for putting on a great show and pumping out amazing records, but for breathing new air into the lungs of a somewhat stale rock and roll era. Until next time boys, “I’ll see ya on the flip side.”