If you haven't yet heard Handwritten, which was released in July this year, it's The Gaslight Anthem's best work to date, without a doubt. Having seen The Gaslight Anthem live many times, I was extremely excited to see what their set would be like with the new songs, and how the fans would react to it. All I can say is it was nothing but positive, and the atmosphere tonight was wonderful.
Getting the night started was a good pal of The Gaslight Anthem, Dave Hause. Most fans of the band will have heard of this lovely gentleman through The Revival Tour which toured through the UK last October which featured Brian Fallon, Chuck Ragan, Dan Andriano and Mr Hause. The confidence he oozed tonight was brilliant, his punk-folk anthems sung solo on electric guitar, being captivating. The lungs on this man is incredible, his powerful vocals really standing out. The American singer/songwriter who is also the frontman of Philadelphia punk band, The Loved Ones played a variety of material from his stunning 2011 release, Resolutions including stand out tracks Time Will Tell and C'mon Kid. His style of performance really reminded me of Billy Bragg, so make sure you have a listen to this guy.
Next up were Blood Red Shoes, a British garage rock duo, consisting of guitarist/vocalist Laura-Mary Carter and drummer/vocalist Steven Ansell. A band who I have heard of but never really listened to, their performance was noisy and unique, blending garage rock, blues and indie rock in a sophisticated and energetic way. Ansell absolutely pounded away on the drums, whereas Carter's shy yet charismatic demeanor creates a perfect live combination, and despite probably being compared to bands such as The White Stripes and The Black Keys, Blood Red Shoes definitely have a more quirky sound, and I'll definitely be checking out their music.
As the moment came for The Gaslight Anthem to take the stage, I realise how much the band have to be proud of. It's the first night of tour, which sold out so quickly the band had to add on another London show, which says something about one of the hardest working bands out there. As Fallon and the band enter the stage to deafening cheers of the crowd, it's hard not to be smiling along with them. I'm sure the audience are preparing to start jumping around to an energetic opening track, but to everyone's surprise they open with the beautiful ballad, Mae, from the new album. This was enough to give me goosebumps, as shocking it was to hear this as their opener, it was perfect, and this slow, gorgeously arranged song marked the maturity gained by the band on the new album. Sending the crowd wild by going straight into fan favourite The '59 Sound, I had a feeling this could potentially be their best set yet.
The band whizzed through their entire catalog, with the energetic 'Old White Lincoln' and new track 'Howl', and it seemed everyone here was in the mood for some Punk Rock. It was a headline set to be proud of, reaching as far back as first record Sink or Swim to play 'Boomboxes & Dictionarys', and later on a stand out live track in 'Angry Johnny and the Radio', they really mixed it up, creating such a wonderful vibe here in Brixton. The Gaslight Anthem were on fire tonight, but in my opinion, they always are.
Everything was near perfection – drummer Benny Horowitz bopped around and slammed his kit in a fashion which could lead me to saying he's one of the best rock drummers in recent times, and the charismatic moves of bass player Alex Levine really complimented their stage presence. Lead singer and guitarist Brian Fallon looked so comfortable up there, where fans look up to him as some kind of god. The lineup, completed by guitarist Alex Rosamilia and newest addition, British boy Ian Perkins looked and sounded their part tonight, and this crowd were enjoying every second of it.
Much of their set came from Handwritten, including recent single '45' and 'Here Comes My Man', both of which are two of the band's most defining tracks, but also slowing the pace down for songs like 'Film Noir' and 'Queen of Lower Chelsea'. Fallon joked with the audience between songs, but also squeezed in as many songs as possible, including the beautiful Handwritten, before ending their set with classic track, The Backseat.
I'm seen some encores in my time, and The Gaslight Anthem are up there as masters of this. Opening their encore set with the gorgeous 'Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts', and treating the crowd to some of their favourites such as 'American Slang' and the bluesy 'Even Cowgirls Get The Blues', it was a set which I didn't want to end. As the night came to a close, the band played the powerful track, 'Great Expectations' where everyone in here was singing along. Unfortunately all good things must end, and tonight was closed with the delicate acoustic track, 'National Anthem' with just Brian Fallon's voice and guitar echoing through this venue, with girls and boys arm in arm swaying side to side to the sounds of this truly beautiful song.
In my eyes, The Gaslight Anthem can do no wrong. They're one of the most consistent bands out there, both live and recorded, who just continue to exceed their own success. Tonight was a night for the die hards, and it will long live in my memory. What. A. Show.
The '59 Sound
Old White Lincoln
Boomboxes & Dictionaries
The Patient Ferris Wheel
Here Comes My Man
Angry Johnny and the Radio
Too Much Blood
Queen of Lower Chelsea
Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts
Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?
Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
All photos by Laura Harvey.