The Gaslight Anthem
The New Jersey Boss acolytes have us all tingly. ULU, London (August 25)
You couldn’t remove the smile from Brian Fallon’s face with a blowtorch. Fresh from playing to roughly half a billion people at some festival or other, he’s rounding off the weekend by coaxing an hour and a half’s singalong from a London crowd who’ve evidently shaken off the bank-holiday blues.
They’re riding the crest of a wave of critical adulation (rightly) lavished on second album ‘The ’59 Sound’, but it’s ‘1930’ and ‘I’da Called You Woody, Joe’ (charmingly prefixed by a verse from ‘Stand By Me’) from debut ‘Sink Or Swim’ that get the throatiest response. Moreover, Fallon and Alex Rosamilia’s guitars seem to be fuelled by the rampant stomp of wild horses, adding a Replacements-esque edge to ‘Great Expectations’ and giving ‘Film Noir’ a heft that hides its country jangle and calls to mind everyone’s favourite anarcho-punks-gone-stadium-rawk, Against Me!. And, like AM!, they show flashes of majestic melody in ‘Old White Lincoln’ and ‘The Backseat’ that suggest they could explode properly beyond the upgrading of the odd show (tonight’s was scheduled at the Barfly). But beyond the lazy Springsteenian reference points – blue-collar joe writes songs, hits big – lies Gaslight’s secret weapon: they write simple songs that people care deeply about. Probably no-one here save the band grew up in New Jersey, but hearing this many throats bellowing “Everybody leaves, so why wouldn’t you?” it’s like we’re all stumbling home from the same dive bar together.
In the encore, ‘Here’s Looking At You, Kid’ sends gorgeously icy shivers up everyone’s spine before ‘Miles Davis & The Cool’ whips up the throng of limbs again. And then the inevitable stage invasion: inevitable because the crowd’s goodwill for the band was always going to overflow, and because all good parties end with a messy pile of revellers dancing as the lights come up.