After a seven year hiatus The Gaslight Anthem return to Manchester’s O2 Apollo to embark on a career spanning setlist that gives just as much attention to the bands modern day material as it does to their classics.
After breaking onto the New Jersey punk scene (that includes names such as The Misfits and Bouncing Souls) in the mid 00s, it has taken the band quite some time to break away from constant comparisons to Bruce Springsteen – most notably when it comes to the storytelling aspect of their songs as well as their obvious geographical ties. Tonight’s setlist showcases that they are more than capable of breaking free. Yes, the influences are there to be seen but it’s unfair to only name check the Boss with Joe Strummer, Tom Petty and a host of other classic artists having left clear impressions on the band.
The hiatus hasn’t effected Brian Fallon’s playful demeanour, his stage presence is felt early on after a t-shirt is thrown from the crowd, the frontman is quick to address how it would no longer fit him before mocking the fact that some reporter will be in the crowd writing all this up (guilty!). A grateful energy is in attendance throughout the night, the musicians and the crowd both thankful to be sharing the same space again after years of uncertainty with the band, let alone the recent times we’ve all been subject to.
Opening with a hauntingly beautiful version of Have Mercy, Fallon is bathed in spotlight as the song slowly starts to kick. Following the opener is one of their most popular hits to date, Handwritten which really gets the crowd moving. The band end with The ’59 Sound’s title track. In-between they revered in all eras of their music, from older favourites like 1930 and Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts, to non-album tracks like Halloween and Sweet Morphine. It is no revelation that songs such as Great Expectations, American Slang, Mullholland Drive and more of their big hitters caused the most chaos amongst the crowd. It is an encouraging sign that the band are playing their biggest venues to date on this tour as we all hotly anticipate their next move. The sky (or arenas) could be the limit for the New Jersey outfit. Welcome back guys, we’ve all missed you.
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