The Gaslight Anthem @ Shepherds Bush Empire, London 08/02/09

April 20, 2009 by  

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It could not have been a more fitting venue for Brian Fallon and his fellow New Jersey band mates, to make their next step toward music’s upper echelons. A quick glance along the wall of the first floor bar reveals some of the past and present greats, who too have graced the stage. It is adorned with pictures and tickets stubs from past gigs by the likes of The Cure, Oasis, and Blur, too name but a few. Having only printed and initial 500 copies of their debut LP, The Gaslight Anthem’s rise has been meteoric to say the least. The last time they was in the UK they were playing the soon to be demolished Astoria 2, yet now only two months later, they find themselves in the grand settings of the lavish Shepherds Bush Empire.

As you can imagine Brian’s smile was permanently etched onto his face throughout the entire set. On opener ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘ Dance’ his American snarl bodes well with the energetic clash of New Jersey Hardcore and Alex Rosammilla’s more anglicised Brit Bop leanings. Throughout he sings with a level of earnest and intensity that his boy hood hero Springsteen would be proud of himself. He breaks occasionally and briefly to engage the crowd, but for the most he lets the music do the talking. His tales of broken lives, dead-end jobs and reckless nights, may appear as obvious subjects to the cynics, but they have clearly connected with their fans, who for the most of the set are happily enthralled in the revelry of the pit.

With only two albums to fill an hour and a half slot, the inevitability of covers is unavoidable, yet they are infused effortlessly. They appear more as musical nods to past heroes than outright covers, the first being a brief rendition of Ben E king’s Stand By Me, brilliantly prefixing ‘The ‘59 sound’. Covers aside, they still manage to find twenty songs from their relatively short career to play, none of which appear to be just filing gaps between hits, but instead are as justified in being aired as the next. As the uniting, power pop ending of ‘Miles Davis and the Cool’ leads the crowd in a guttural sing along, you can’t help but feel The Gaslight Anthem will soon be breaking out from the bedrooms of disillusioned teenagers and into the lives of us all.

By liam Clune


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