The Gaslight Anthem Rocks Boston
The Gaslight Anthem
Murder by Death
House of Blues Boston
October 17th, 2009
It’s amazing how quickly the Gaslight Anthem, a band that was barely known outside the state of New Jersey until recently, has exploded onto the scene in 2009. After an opening slot at a free WFNX show this summer, the band returned to Boston to headline the House of Blues in an engagement that signaled the arrival of the blue-collar quintet as one of today’s most promising acts.
The night began with a set from Broadway Calls, an up and coming pop-punk act that has seemingly opened for about 100 different bands this fall. While their short set was solid, it wasn’t as nearly as well received as their performance supporting Streetlight Manifesto at the same venue a month earlier.
As the cavernous venue finally began to fill up, Jesse Malin and his supporting band took the stage to perform a set of sunny pop tunes that had the crowd slightly interested. I’ll have to admit it wasn’t exactly my thing, so I didn’t pay too much attention.
Next up was Murder by Death, a band that served as a perfect opener for the Gaslight Anthem with their gruff, no frills style. The band played a 40 minute set of songs that dealt mainly with whiskey, drinking, the desert, and being in jail. It seemed as if the quartet was straight out of a John Wayne movie, and the crowd ate it up.
The Gaslight Anthem would then take the stage as Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” was pumped over the PA system. With a huge smile on his face, lead singer Brian Fallon would strum the first notes to “High Lonesome” as the dance party instantly became a rousing rock show. The band would then tear through “Casanova, Baby!” and “Old White Lincoln” as the crowd surged toward the front of the stage and sang along.
As the set wore on, the New Jersey quintet seemed to pick up steam with every song, and those in attendance responded in kind. Fallon and co. would not only play every song from their breakout album The ’59 Sound, but they would also play a number of tracks from their debut full length Sink or Swim, as well as from their more recent Senior and the Queen EP. While it was not surprising that they would venture into older material, it was surprising how enthusiastically the crowd responded to it. It’s good to see that radio success hasn’t created an army of fair weather fans.
The ear to ear grin that Fallon had showcased at the start of the set never left his face, An outsider might have thought he had just won the lottery, and based on the size of the crowd that packed the House of Blues and their enthusiasm, he might as well have. After a show stopping rendition of “Here’s Looking At You, Kid,” the band would charge into “The Backseat,” a set closing number that had crowd serfers flying through the air.
After a brief time break, the group would return for an encore that would feature zero songs from their most recent album but would still inspire quite a bit of chaos in the pit. “Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts” was followed by “Drive,” and the show was then closed with a cathartic version of “Say You Won’t (Recognize)” that saw nearly everyone on the floor crashing and bouncing into each other like bumper cars.
With smiles still intact, the band would leave the stage a full hour and a half after they had made their appearance, which is almost unheard of for a band with only two full length records. They had given their fans everything they had wanted and more, which is just one of the reasons why one of rock’s best kept secrets may officially be out.