Backstage News, Front Row Pics

Front Row Pics/FlashWounds Review: The Gaslight Anthem

Gas1“Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?!”

By Mark McKellar, photos by Kimberly Marchand


Whatever happened to rock n roll? Honest-to-goodness, old fashioned, down and dirty, get up and dance rock n roll, the kind of music that used to inspire young men in their blue jeans and white Tshirts to pick up their special girl in a cherry, freshly waxed convertible and take her out dancing on a Saturday night in a dingy, smoky music hall that could easily have been from a scene in Grease?  The kind of music that begs to be heard on vinyl rather than an MP3? I can tell you where to find it alive and well in three words: THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM.

For 8 years, the four piece from New Brunswick, New Jersey has been crisscrossing the globe, building a loyal following of fans disillusioned by today’s “pop music,” quenching the thirst of music fans yearning for something more ~ Something a little more vintage, something with more tweed guitar amps, something with a little less auto-tune…something authentic. With their classic Telecaster guitar tone and singer Brian Fallon’s “smoked one too many cigarettes” vocals, The Gaslight Anthem have developed a sound that is distinctly their own, a sound that gets its heart from punk rock but its soul from early rock n roll, R&B, and gospel ~ The Gospel according to Brian Fallon, that is.

On their latest release Get Hurt (Aug 2014; Island Records), The Gaslight Anthem has taken their signature sound and led it down a slightly more mature path. If their earlier records were a night on the town with your best girl, then Get Hurt is what happens when that relationship eventually sours. In truth, the record itself deals mostly with Fallon’s recent divorce from his wife (and sister of bass player Alex Levine) of 8 years. Though the subject matter may have changed a little for the more serious, the sound is still very much Gaslight.

I had the opportunity to catch a couple of the band’s shows (Sat., 9/13 in Holmdel, NJ, and Tues., 9/16 in Boston, MA at HoB) during the Northeast leg of their Get Hurt US Tour and, although the two performances were very different in terms of venue and set selection, one element remained consistent on both nights: the band is locked in and on top of their game.

Even before the first note, it was obvious that the New Jersey show was going to be special; it was basically a hometown show for the band and the hometown love was undeniable. The venue itself, The PNC Bank Arts Center, is much larger than any of the other venues on this tour, able to seat over 17,000 people while the others are halls that can accommodate only between 2000 and 3000 patrons.  

Gas 3 hor

As the band took the stage, the energy in the amphitheater crackled. Launching right into “Stay Vicious.” the first track off Get Hurt, TGA didn’t let up for two hours, an incredible set that included a 40 minute encore. Playing songs from all 5 of the their full length studio releases, as well as covers of “House of the Rising Sun” and “Baba O’Riley” (NOT “Teenage Wasteland”), Brian broke up the set with entertaining stories and heartfelt thank yous to the audience. At one point, he shared that the PNC Bank Arts Center was where, at age 11, he had seen his first concert. He spoke of how powerful that show was and how it had changed his life, inspiring him to promise himself right then and there that someday he would be the one up on stage, perhaps having a similar effect on a new generation of concert-goers.

Gas 2At the House of Blues in Boston, Gaslight showed just how versatile they have become, gearing down from a large arena-like production to a much more intimate club setup. Following noteworthy performances by Twopointeight and Against Me!, their set, an almost completely different collection of songs, focused much more on the band’s up-tempo tunes. It could have been the smaller venue, or the shorter set length, but Gaslight seemed determined to get the crowd moving early and keep them on their feet for the majority of the night. At times, the crowd was so engaged that their collective voices were louder than the front-of-house speakers. I’d imagine that they were louder than the stage monitors as well, because a number of times Brian slowly backed up, or just completely walked away from the mic, leaving the vocals in the hands of the nearly sold out crowd.

I may make some enemies is the Garden State with this final observation, but I have to make it anyway.  There was one additional difference ~ a significant one ~ between the two shows:  how each audience chanted for the encore.  New Jersey, I was very disappointed in you. Your feeble, quiet attempts at chanting “GLA” and “Gaslight” were simply embarrassing, especially when compared to Boston’s roaring “Gaslight Anthem!” interspersed with rhythmic clapping. Brian made a point to announce at Saturday’s show that it was their biggest New Jersey show ever, so the least you could have done is given the band a proper encore chant. Step up your game, Jersey, Boston knows how to treat a band right.

The Get Hurt tour will finish off its US leg on Oct 17th in Pittsburgh PA before taking the band overseas for about 3 weeks. If you have an opportunity to catch one of the dates over the next month, I would highly recommend you do it and let The Gaslight Anthem remind you that rock n roll isn’t dead, it’s just on tour…


Special thanks to Tito Belis



The Gaslight Anthem

Against Me!



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