Last year I wrote about The Gaslight Anthem and their album The ’59 Sound with unabashed fervor. I placed it in my Top 25 last year with a bullet, because I thought I stumbled across the Missing Link between Bruce Springsteen and The Clash. Here’s what I wrote:
I usually have a bone to pick with any CD that starts with the sound of a needle dropping onto a vinyl record, as if to say “we’re old school rock”. But when you back it up musically, like The Gaslight Anthem does with its Springsteen-from-Dublin approach, all is forgiven. Like The Boss, they’re from Jersey, and this energetic, sing-along, punk-tinged quartet bleeds Bruce’s social observations, wanton loneliness and escapist angst without sounding like a wannabe copycat band. Musically they’re closer to a combination of the rhythmic Edge-like guitar chop of U2 and the sonic political energy of The Clash and…well, early U2.
Having “anthem” as part of their name is appropriate; their literate, lyrical songs resonate with importance and are sold with the passionate vocals of Brian Fallon. I can’t listen to “The Patient Ferris Wheel” or “Meet Me By The River’s Edge” without stifling the reflex to pogo up and down, pumping my fist…not the best combination when driving. Of course, once I noticed that former Flogging Molly guitarist Ted Hutt produced it that explained everything. Hard to believe a band gets this good in two and a half years, but this album is so impressive that I’m grabbing their earlier effort on good faith.
Seeing them live tonight reinforced every thought.
What can I say? Brian Fallon had the crowd in the palm of his hand the moment he walked on stage. The rest of the night? He juggled them. And I’m not certain if drummer Benny Horowitz had an unlit cigarette or a lollipop in his mouth the entire night, but whether he was channeling James Dean or Kojak didn’t matter. He threw the pulse of the band on his back and carried that weight; all chops and no show-off. Bassist Alex Levine is a massive physical presence, especially next to the comparably diminutive Fallon. His bass thundered all night, but who would dare tell him to lower it one notch? The crowd, fixated on every move, clapped when he clapped and sang when he sang, as if he was the official audience conductor.
I was wondering why guitarist Alex Rosamilia appeared shy by comparison, forgoing the front line to remain a few steps back stage right, at times bent in halfas if bowing to the rhythm. I soon realized that the cacophony of sounds (strings here, accordion there… a horn section?) was emanating from his flavored playing. While Fallon was hammering out the path forward with choppy rhythms, Rosamilia was aural popcorn, splattering a Jason Pollack potpourri of soundscape that made no two songs sound alike.
The Water Street Music Hall was packed, and although the crowd skewed pretty young compared to most, this was a revival meeting from the jump. Sing-alongs, fist-pumping accolades, a well-earned four-song encore and a captive audience that left as sweat-soaked and drained as the band. The Gaslight Anthem earned every penny tonight, and I suspect they do every night. They ripped through most of the new album – half of which are anthems – along with a couple of cuts each from Senor and the Queen and Sink or Swim. They’re bouncing around the US kicking asses one city at a time – don’t miss them!
And somehow I thought they were still my little secret? Oh, foolish mortal!
Gaslight Anthem MySpace site
Listen to clips and buy the album on Amazon.
Who wouldn’t like these guys?