The Gaslight Anthem @ O2 Academy, Glasgow

There’s a line in Even Cowgirls Get The Blues which says, “tell your pappa you’ll be home when the good feeling dies,” and if that was the case here The Gaslight Anthem would still be playing now, for they create a feelgood, positive energy at their shows like no other.

Pooling from a setist which spanned their four record career to date the band treated the raucous Glasgow audience to a night which went by faster than an Alex Rosamilia chord.  Whether it’s the influence of alcohol, a greater fanaticism for the band or a generally better ability to enjoy themselves – or a bit of each – there’s nothing quite like a Glasgow crowd on a night like this.  The band evidently fed off the energy coming from the stalls and it produced emphatic results.

Brian Fallon was in a playful mood with a rant against Justin Bieber; demonstrating his love of the way Scottish people pronounce the letter ‘o’ – as in “Little Monsters” becoming “Little Moonsters” – and offering some film critique:  The Notebook good but sad; I Spit On Your Grave nasty.  But it’s with their music that he and his band excel and this was another fine performance of room-shaking, sweat-inducing rock.

Sink or Swim had a greater presence here than in Manchester, with the addition of Boomboxes and Dictionaries and particularly Drive adding to the ferocity of the set, which already packed a powerful punch with the intensity of the likes of Biloxi Parish, Great Expectations and The ’59 Sound.

But The Gaslight Anthem can mix it up and show a softer side too.  Here’s Looking At You, Kid is performed under an almost hushed reverence and the likes of opener Mae and She Loves You display the wide range of talent in the band.

What is perhaps most impressive about this model of The Gaslight Anthem is the way that certain lyrics seem to act as dramatic signposts throughout the set.  The part during The ’59 Sound before the line “ain’t supposed to die on a Saturday night” rouses the audience even more, while the word “defeat” in Handwritten provokes a reaction.  The closing line of Here’s Looking At You, Kid, the mid-section of Angry Johnny And The Radio and the abforementioned line from Even Cowgirls Get The Blues all act as moments of drama.

The Gaslight Anthem have everything going for them.  A charismatic frontman, a group who have been together and recorded together long enough to fine-tune an excellent stage performance, a back catalogue of great songs into which the recently released Handwritten fits comfortably and a loyal and enthusiastic fanbase.  With live shows of this quality complimenting the high standard of their released, there is no limit to what these boys from New Jersey can achieve.

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The Gaslight Anthem @ O2 Apollo, Manchester

The Manchester Apollo originally served as a cinema following its construction in 1938 before the demands of the 1970’s called on it to focus its resources on the increasing desire for variety shows and music concerts.  The new millennium has seen the venue rebranded under the O2 name, like many iconic venues of the era.

The Gaslight Anthem have drawn their influences from the silver screen greats of the 30’s and 40’s, referencing Judy Garland and the Wizard of Oz in several songs, as well as the music of 70’s and 80’s rock stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Jon Bon Jovi.  Their recent album Handwritten was the first to be released under their deal with record label conglomerate Mercury.

With that historical backdrop it was fitting that The Gaslight Anthem should play the O2 Apollo Manchester, with its red walls and flooring still distinctive of the days as a variety hall.  The band’s performance on the stage too echoed memories of a distant era as they produce an all-out rock show the likes of which are hard to find in 2012.

That new Mercury released record Handwritten formed the core of the show, with at least eight of the nights twenty-two songs coming from it.  Mae was a gentle opener into a gig which would become much louder, recent singles Here Comes My Man and Handwritten pleased any newcomers to the band while Biloxi Parish and Mulholland Drive were raw and edgy, the latter packing a particular punch.

Handwritten may be the band’s best selling album, but The ‘59 Sound still provides the best live material.  Great Expectations brought the main set to a racing, raging climax while The Backseat proved a popular number to end the encore.

This is a band that wears its influences on its sleeves. Tom Petty is at the centre of young romance in Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, which also namechecks many Springsteen characters, and Dylan’s Changing Of The Guards was given a makeover in the encore.  The influence and importance of the radio, which is present in so many Gaslight songs, was highlighted by Brian Fallon before ’45’ as he thanked Radio 1, XFM and the audience for ensuring that it was the band’s first song to receive prolonged airplay.  It’s clearly something he’s proud of, and you can feel it in the gusto of his performance.

Charismatic frontman Brian Fallon claimed in the encore that he sometimes doesn’t know how to handle the recognition which is now being given to the band, but their confident performance belies that humbleness.  His statement here was one of few pauses for conversation; this is a relentless rock show where three, sometimes four, songs follow one after the other like a torrent of punches.

The Gaslight Anthem strive to offer something different, promising not to fall into the trap of other established acts who play “the same old shit every night”.  Times have changed and while the world is now a place where O2 and Mercury are king, The Gaslight Anthem are also throwback to the sweat and beer soaked variety hall of the 1970’s.