Gaslight Anthem, Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ – 8/5
Brian Fallon, The Gaslight Anthem at Bonnaroo – photo by Kevin Yatarola
The Gaslight Anthem returned home last Thursday night, treating their fans to a stellar 26 song show, at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Having emerged out of the New Brunswick punk scene only 30 miles away, this truly was a homecoming with many of their friends, family and oldest fans in attendance. The energy was palpable before the show, as Gaslight holds a special place in the hearts of many of their fans from this area. With the success of their last 2 albums ’59 Sound and American Slang, Gaslight has now hit the mainstream and went from playing the indoor stage at The Stone Pony, to selling out the much larger Stone Pony Summerstage.
Gaslight started the night off with their new hit single “American Slang.” I was wondering how their sound would fill the much larger venue, and from the get-go I was blown away at how full and crisp the band sounded, and how perfectly Brian Fallon’s voice projected thru the Jersey Shore air. Fallon sings with such an undeniable passion, lines like “I got your name tattooed inside of my arm” make you really feel both the emotional and physical anguish he often writes about. But Fallon embraces the pain, the idea of “what doesn’t kill me, only makes me stronger” might best describe the emotion and feel of Gaslight’s music.
After “American Slang”, Fallon led the band through two other new songs, the gritty rocker “Boxer” and perhaps the most lighthearted, feel good ditty he has penned to date, “The Diamond Church Street Choir.” With perhaps the three best songs on the new album coming right off the bat, Gaslight showed how much their sound has evolved since their days of playing the basement in New Brunswick. Gaslight then worked their way thru a good chunk of their 2nd album, ’59 Sound. Including an impressive “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues”, which really took off, with Fallon’s scorching vocals once again echoing thru the night. Also off ’59 Sound came spot on interpretations of “Miles Davis and the Cool,” “The ’59 Sound” and “Film Noir” which gave the show a nice flow and allowed the audience to settle in and find their grove.
The second half featured more of their earlier material, which was a delight to a lot of their older fans in attendance who first starting seeing Gaslight when they had a much harder/punk sound. Old classics like “Angry Johny And The Radio,” “We Came To Dance,” “Red In The Morning,” “Boomboxes and Dictionaries” and “We’re Getting a Divorce, You Keep The Diner” are so aggressive that sometimes mosh pits can spontaneously erupt in the crowd. Their older songs show signs of songwriting genius, combining thrash metal-like punk and R&B/soul-like melodies, so it as easy to understand how these guys developed an almost cult following from the start.
Gaslight later ended the night with a five song encore, closing with the appropriately fitting last two songs off of ’59 Sound: “Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid” and “The Backseat.” Some may have been disappointed that they didn’t play either of the covers they have been doing most nights on this tour, Pearl Jam’s “State of Love and Trust” or The Who’s “Baby O’Reilly,” but on this Jersey Shore night, Fallon knew this audience wanted all the Gaslight they could get. Playing to the Jersey crowd, Fallon was sporting his Derek Jeter practice jersey, and at one point during the show, commented that there was supposed to be thunderstorms but, “God didn’t want to mess Jersey boys.” The Gaslight Anthem are a force to be reckoned with: watch out Mr. Springsteen, you finally have some competition in the state.