The Gaslight Anthem @ House of Blues 11.26.12
by Cara McGrath (Graphic Design), published December 5th 2012
Even if I tried, it would impossible to produce any complaints about The Gaslight Anthem’s performance at the House of Blues on November 26. Lead by front man Brian Fallon (who came off as a not only a funny guy but a completely normal, down-to-earth one) the band won over the extremely eclectic crowd with ease. Focusing mostly on the new material released on their latest LP, Handwritten, the band’s set list did somewhat neglect their very early work. This, however, was far from a bad thing. Since Handwritten has received so much attention from critics and fans alike, it was a pleasant surprise and a smart decision for the New Jersey-based band to play the new release in its entirety, minus just one song.
The two openers, Matthew Ryan and Polar Bear Club, were definitely just there to make Gaslight look good. Matthew Ryan had a sound similar to that of Chuck Ragan or Brian Fallon’s solo work and despite his evident nerves, put on a much better act than his successor. Polar Bear Club, on the other hand, may have had good confidence on stage, but the lead singer’s antics were annoying and unimpressive, including dropping the F-bomb roughly every three words between songs and grinning like an idiot with a double-thumbs-up at the end of each song. Their set was essentially something straight out of a high school battle of the bands competition, so by the time The Gaslight Anthem came on, the crowd was ready for some quality music.
To my surprise, despite being a pretty heavy rock band, Gaslight started the performance with a slow tune, “Mae.” They played it perfectly though, as they did the rest of their set. And the set was a full one, with 26 songs including an unbelievable seven-song encore. But of everything in the setlist, what is sure to stick in my mind for a very long time is the Bon Iver “Blood Bank” cover that was inserted so unexpectedly in the middle of “Angry Johnny and the Radio,” one of only two tracks performed from their debut album, Sink or Swim. I don’t think that many people in the audience appreciated this as much as I did, but to see one of my favorite bands cover a song by another one of my favorite artists was pretty incredible. Their rendition of Pearl Jam’s “State of Love and Trust” was memorable as well.
Other standout songs included “The Patient Ferris Wheel,” “America Slang,” a new, unreleased song called “Halloween,” and “Desire,” which Fallon said he was pretty sure was their first time performing. Lead guitarist Alex Rosamilia’s talents were particularly apparent during “Handwritten,” “Mullholland Drive,” and “Here’s Looking At You, Kid,” during which Fallon even made Rosamilia repeat his solo.
So while The Gaslight Anthem devoted a lot of their time to newer material, they were still able to fit many other favorites into their jam-packed set. And despite it being a Monday night, the audience did not hold back – without fail, Gaslight’s fans moshed and crowd surfed their hearts out.