The Gaslight Anthem
Hudson River Park, New York, NY
July 28, 2013
Concert Review: The Gaslight Anthem at Hudson River Park
With support from The Hold Steady, New Jersey natives The Gaslight Anthem wrapped up a three night weekend in New York City on Sunday night at the Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 along the west side waterfront. The band’s abbreviated ninety minute set energetically fueled a surprisingly passionate collection of Gaslight fans, despite the persistence of incessant rain which threatened for most of the late afternoon.
The Gaslight Anthem is a throwback band of sorts- a four piece that records a brand of true American rock and roll that frankly doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Cut from the same cloth as so many legendary New Jersey musical icons, the band has a very familiar, very blue collar feel to them, likely inspired by their well-documented influences. While you’re not likely to find many fans more devoted than those that exist in the tri-state area, the similarities to Springsteen have certainly cast a shadow over The Gaslight Anthem’s own individuality- not necessarily to their detriment however, considering the string of successful shows staged by the band all weekend long. But with a rumored new album on the way, the band’s fifth, the frustrations of the band from mounting fan interaction certainly appear to be getting to enigmatic frontman Brian Fallon, who stormed offstage at the show’s end and scribed a cryptic message to fans preoccupied withe the band’s influences rather than the band themselves.
For those of us in attendance however, and to the band’s credit, you wouldn’t have known that anything was afoot. The band took centerstage shortly after 8pm to a rousing ovation courtesy of a collection of some now soaking wet concertgoers. But much like Fun.’s performance at the same venue just a week prior, the rain seemed to truly energize the band’s fans. Wielding his orange electric guitar, Fallon shied away from much banter with the audience- launching into show opener “Handwritten,” a fast paced track that kicked the show off with a frenzy. “The ’59 Sound” followed suit, much to the delight of the crowd, now singing along with Fallon in unison. Although the rain never slowed during the early portion of the show, neither did the band who transitioned between cuts from their four studio releases with relative ease, despite the noticeable absence of “American Slang,” perhaps the band’s most well known single.
Tracks like “We Came to Dance,”Howl” and “’45′” paced remainder of the main set before “Here Comes My Man” unglued the crowd during the band’s encore. While The Gaslight Anthem certainly seems to have matured as a live act, unfortunately the fallout from the show revolved more around Fallon’s reaction to his fans persistent “Bruuuuuce” howlings, than anything else. Addressing the crowd, Fallon defiantly remarked “if you wanna hear his songs, go see him.” The band subsequently closed the show with an excellent cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” which sent fans home happy (and early) but the undercurrent of tension was clearly palpable as the band headed backstage.
Blessed with an endorsement from Bruce Springsteen himself and having joined ‘The Boss’ on stage has certainly been a blessing for The Gaslight Anthem, whose no frills approach to creating rock music runs eerily similar to the New Jersey native. But with four albums released and a slew of sold out shows under their collective belts, the band has clearly grown tired of being overshadowed by their artistic influences. Unfortunately, rather than looking back on a truly solid special rock concert, the band seems to have once again been eclipsed- this time by their frontman’s frustrations with the fans who pay money to cheer or boo as they please. Chants of “Bruuuce” might not have been boos, but to Fallon, they may as well have.
- Jane Van Arsdale