posted on March 12, 2009 07:07
The Gaslight Anthem (live in The Academy, Dublin)
Review Snapshot: Pop instincts wrapped in a ragged cloak. The Gaslight Anthem played their first Irish Gig in the Academy, March 4th, supported by Frank Turner. High energy and enthusiasm was the essence of the night. Live renditions of tracks from the critically acclaimed The '59 Sound were certainly done justice. Expressing tales of family, love, life, loss and youth reeling in the audience all driven by this four piece's taut muscular rock n' roll rhythms. The Gaslight Anthem are as tight as any band I've seen this, or even last year.
The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10
"The songs, the best of them, are adventures in the dark, incidents of wasted fury. Tales of kids born to run who lose anyway.…taut rock songs about people crushed by family, by lust, by living in this world every day…The promise and the threat of the night; the lure of the road; the quest for a chance worth taking and the lust to pay its price; girls glimpsed once at 80 miles an hour and never forgotten; the city streets as the last, permanent American frontier. We know the story: one thousand and one American nights, one long night of fear and love…there are no idle thoughts about how nice true love might be."
Rolling Stone magazine, various Springsteen reviews 1972-1981
So now that we’ve the mandatory Springsteen references out of the way, let’s get on with reviewing The Gaslight Anthems gig in The Academy. I first stumbled upon The Gaslight Anthem with the release of their album “The ‘59 Sound” and was surprised to learn that this was not a new band with a debut album. In fact, they had already been around for 2 and a half years with their debut album Sink or Swim under their belt. The success of this band is not unexpected. Combining old school clean-cut rock n' roll spiced with definite elements of hardcore, pop-punk, rockabilly & classic soul certainly gives them commercial appeal which is catching up with the (justly deserved) critical acclaim of The '59 Sound.
The night began with supporting musician Frank Turner, armed solely with his guitar and microphone. Do not be fooled by the sheared down, no-frills approach Turner takes to his music. His presence immediately impregnated the venue and he engaged the audience with his punk melodic laments telling of life's hardships.
The Gaslight Anthem kicked off their set with Great Expectations from The ‘59 Sound. Their simple songs of small-town, blue-collar America immediately brought to life with high energy and enthusiasm. Their own brand of crisp anthemic pop cloaked in precise yet fuzzy, ragged sound, primed to stomp through the venue, driven by hardcore punk and melodies. In particular leading man Brian Fallon, whose neck with veins like ropes plunging out in all directions, urgently delivers a tale of hopes and dreams. It is blatant that this band are passionate about their music. Every song off album The ‘59 Sound was featured in their set with a few choice tracks of Sink or Swim and their recent EP Senor and the Queen.
Being the first Irish gig The Gaslight Anthem have performed, they certainly were well received on this sell out night by their youthful adoring crowd, although some of the crowd seemed to only more than vaguely familiar with the singles. However this didn’t seem to deter the band, least of all Brian Fallon who spent much of the nights show with an incredulous smile on his face. Those who cannot hear farther than the lazy "Springsteen-clone" comparisons would have been surprised to witness them begin Senor and the Queen with their rendition of 'This Is A Man’s World', just one of tonight's ventures into classic American soul.
Towards the end of their set, Fallon pondered out loud about his working class New Jersey upbringing speaking of his hardworking Irish Father and Polish Mother with unmistakable pride before launching into Backseat where enthusiastic clapping engulfed the audience. An encore ensued featuring a song each from both albums and their EP, with the band further reveling in the American songbook through the brief charming snippet of Stand By Me which prefixed I’da Called You Woody, Joe. The highlights of this gig included Boomboxes and Dictionaries, The '59 Sound, The Old White Lincoln, Even Cowgirls get the Blues and The Backseat, all fantastic live performances. A dip in the tempo came with The Navesink Bank which certainly didn’t falter the audience.
A question of whether this band can in fact step out of the Springsteen shadow that has been cast over them to become a band in their own right is debatable. Their music perhaps lacks some particularly unique element. However, if you can stop yourself from staring at this band through Springsteen shaped glasses they are certainly one of the brightest around at the moment, and definitely worth a see.