Live: The Gaslight Anthem

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

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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.

Nick Hasted

Nick Hasted writes about film, music, books and comics for Classic Rock, The Independent, Uncut, Jazzwise and The Arts Desk. He has published three books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), and Jack White: How He Built An Empire From The Blues (2016).