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Live: The Gaslight Anthem

The roots-punk rockers show their sunny, soft side.

Brian Fallon is listing the short-arses of rock.

“Big Bad Bruce” Springsteen and Eddie Vedder are reckoned to be around his own less-than-stumpy five-foot-eight, during a goofily humorous ramble that takes in the Redcoats and the English language, and the virtue of his band’s politics-free rock shows: “You can come here and think what you want.”

A mostly empty balcony suggests gently declining fortunes for these Springsteen-anointed New Jerseyites. While their last LP, Get Hurt, detailed Fallon’s divorce, you’d be hard-pushed to find a more sunnily engaging frontman, or a band more delighted to play. Their old-fashioned virtues see defiantly burning lighters outnumber self-obsessed camera-phones during She Loves You.

An online requests-inspired emphasis on their slower, softer side gets a mixed response: “Where the fuck has that been for 90 minutes?” a fan grumbles, as they finally thunder down the home stretch. The Gaslight Anthem can be balls-out rockers when they choose. But they’ve endured because Fallon aims higher than he can reach, not wanting to be his character in_ Great Expectations, who was ‘always waiting for something to happen’._

Songs such as The Blue Dahlia suggest Fallon wishes he was Leonard Cohen, John Steinbeck or James Ellroy. The humanity he’s learned from them will have to do.