For a rock band in the biblical sense the New Jersey natives have already achieved a remarkable feat – transcending genre snobbery to garner universal exaltation for their new album The ’59 Sound. It’s reassuring to know that the cream always rises to the top.
The Gaslight Anthem start off fast and furious, launching into Great Expectations and tearing through the next seven or eight songs non-stop without saying a word to a crowd made up of rockers, indie kids and folk who just know good music when they hear it.
When they finally pause for breath, frontman Brian Fallon is beaming the warmest smile. Humble and sincere, he is instantly likeable and the depth of feeling reciprocated by 600 people in a country his band have never set foot in before seems to take him by surprise.
Fallon grows ever more relaxed as the gigs goes on, high-fiving the front row, remarking on how Fergie from Black Eyed Peas looks better from a distance and inviting the audience to join them for a dance after the show, having noted the venue’s alter-ego as a nightclub.
Their live performance adds a real edge to the band. The songs from their pre-fame debut album Sink Or Swim are reinvigorated with drive and energy, while there is little sign of Fallon’s vocal similarity to Brandon Flowers on The ’59 Sound album, an ironic comparison given The Gaslight Anthem’s take on the sound of Americana is far more genuine than The Killers attempted with Sam’s Town.
In a way, The Gaslight Anthem are sheep in wolves’ clothing. The tattoos and rock shapes mask a remarkable gift for melody and classic songwriting. The influence of Bruce Springsteen is particularly prominent, infusing The ’59 Sound’s incredible title track with a fist-pumping zeal, and they pepper the set with the odd verse from What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?, Stand By Me and Downtown Train.
Before the pre-encore finale of The Backseat, a gracious Fallon tries to sum up how best to articulate his own appreciation. “I’m going to call my mom and tell her about all the folks who came to see us in Scotland.”
As the fans head to the exit, chattering excitedly about their favourite moments, The Pop Cop’s own highlight is about to become evident. There waiting at the bottom of the stairs to greet everyone is none other than Fallon himself, having dashed from the stage to exchange warm handshakes, pose for photos and receive some thoroughly deserved pats on the back.