NEW YORK, NY—Just in case Brian Fallon becomes the musical legend he should, let it be stated that on September 8, 2011, The Bowery Ballroom hosted yet another side of his talents in the form of The Horrible Crowes’ debut performance. To paraphrase him, The Horrible Crowes came about when he and his pal/guitar tech, Ian Perkins, were avoiding the perils of drinking and drugging on the road and wound up writing a few songs, resulting in the new album, Elsie.

The night began with Brian McGee diving right into his 40-minute set with a strong a cappella take of his song “When My Time Comes.” Having gained the crowd’s attention, he continued with a great set that included several other tracks from his latest album, The Taking Or The Leaving. My personal favorites were “Hold Sway” and the Plow United cover, whose title I can’t find anywhere.

After a short break, drummer Steve Sidelnyk emerged to lay the foundation for Elsie’s opening track, “Last Rites,” followed by “Cousin” Frank Marra on bass, Gaslight Anthem’s Alex Rosamilia on the keyboard (and sometimes guitar), Ian Perkins on lead guitar and Brian Fallon on guitar and vocals. Looking dapper in most proper attire, the gentlemen were softly lit by warm red and cool blue lights. Even in the moodiest of songs, there was an air of good times flowing from the stage. They played through the entire album, mixing part of The Cure’s “Pictures Of You” into “Ladykiller” and covering Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart” (the latter being the encore). The sold out crowd of around 500 seemed respectful, save for the people intent on shouting requests for Bruce covers, Brian’s attention or Ian’s jokes.

My favorite thing about the show was hearing “Blood Loss” live and finding out that it was almost left off the album. This song epitomizes the sound and the feel of Elsie. In the recording, it starts off quiet and a little melancholy, builds in the first chorus, slinks back in the second verse and then just explodes into the chorus with venomous passion. Live, they teased the audience with an additional subdued chorus before the burst of emotion. It was a nice touch. I was also quite fond of Ian Perkins’ shiny red Gibson ES-335. It was gorgeous and he made it sound incredible.

The Horrible Crowes are not some sort of meaningless, over-stylized, hipster side project homage to grandpa’s standards nor is it Brian Fallon’s radical departure from everything that you may love about his other music. It is just a different feeling. Along with “Behold The Hurricane,” “Go Tell Everybody,” “Mary Ann” and the other songs you need to sing along with, you get songs like “Sugar,” “I Believe Jesus Brought Us Together” and “Cherry Blossoms.” This is a chance to just be still and let the music engulf you. These songs make me feel like I was just holding my breath and I held it just a second too long causing my heart to wonder whether it should stop beating or beat faster.

Sometimes you have to sing along and other times you just have to listen. I hope this lineup plays NYC again soon.

 

SET LIST:

Last Rites

Sugar
Behold The Hurricane

I Witnessed A Crime

Go Tell Everybody

Cherry Blossoms

Ladykiller (with part of The Cure’s “Pictures of You”)

Crush

Teenage Dream*

Mary Ann

Black Betty And The Moon

Blood Loss

I Believe Jesus Brought Us Together

 

ENCORE:

Never Tear Us Apart**

 

*Katy Perry Cover

**INXS Cover

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