By: Stephen McGill –
It’s a testament to their popularity that despite having played The Opera House a mere five months ago, that The Gaslight Anthem could come back and sell out the much larger Sound Academy last night. They were touring show in support of their new album Handwritten, out this past July and with heavy radio play behind their new single “45” it was hard to tell how many more fans the band had acquired in the past few months, but the set played heavily to the new material, but also spent a lot of time revisiting most of the songs from their stellar album The ’59 Sound.
Things began quietly with singer Brian Fallon lit by a spotlight playing through Handwritten track “Mae” before the curtain dropped behind them revealing their banner, and the lights went up to highlight the rest of the band as they launched into “The ’59 Sound.” From there on the set swung back and forth between the bands two big albums, while Fallon joked goofily with fans in between songs. The band was spot on musically, having added additional guitarist Ian Perkins for the tour, and while the spot light was on Fallon most of the night, the rest of the band never missed a note. “We’re playing a game today called the Alex setlist, where Alex chose all the songs on the set list” Perkins chimed in at one point, referring to guitarist Alex Rosamilia, “I like it so far, so far so good.” After a scorching rendition of “45” they stopped and after a quick conference on stage declared “We’re sorry about all the talking, here’s a song from New Jersey you know,” before launching into a faithful cover of the Misfits “Astro Zombies.”
While the older fans had to wait, they were eventually thrown a bone in the shape of back to back “Senor and the Queen” and “1930” off the Senor and The Queen EP and Sink Or Swim respectively. After closing their main set with “Great Expectations” they left the stage, returning shortly after for a six song encore, including personal favorite “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues.” They ended the night with track “The Backseat,” wishing everyone in the audience a good night and a safe drive home, before leaving the stage for good after an hour and 45 minutes.
Opening the night was Welsh power rock band The Joy Formidable, which may seem like a strange fit to tour with The Gaslight Anthem, who generally travel with a pretty insular group of bands. It made sense pretty quickly though, because The Joy Formidable straight up rock, and they didn’t stop for the duration of their 45 minutes set. With a new album Wolf’s Law due out soon, the set list travelled between new songs, and tracks from 2010’s The Big Roar. Frontwoman Ritzy Brian is a force to be reckoned with and a phenomenal presence on stage, if you do manage to pull your eyes from her she’s flanked by bassist Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matt Thomas. Whenever they weren’t singing they were bouncing around the stage and getting the crowd engaged. Highlight of the set came with big single “The Cradle” off The Big Roar one of their catchiest songs. Ahead of a win to get in concert the next day at the Mod Club, it’s hard not to imagine there are a few more people trying to find tickets now.
The rise of The Gaslight Anthem seems to continue onwards and upwards, the two shows this year were the perfect companion to each other, giving a view of a band that can only keep getting bigger. In 2009, I reviewed their first headlining tour in Canada, and I stated then that this band is going to be huge, and for them it would be bigger and bigger clubs, and then stadiums. I stand by that now more than ever. The future is looking bright for The Gaslight Anthem.