As ‘Jump’ by Van Halen played The Gaslight Anthem walked out at the O2 Academy in Leeds to a sold out audience of doting fans. From the first track ‘High Lonesome’ the adoring following seemed well versed with every word, and they weren’t afraid to vocalise their encyclopaedic knowledge.
Whilst reveling in the fanaticism of the audience they didn’t milk it in any way and went straight into ‘Casanova Baby!’ without a break for applause. They played their favourite songs album by album, according to lead singer Brian Fallon this was to make things more fun for them, and they certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves. Fallon’s vocals were of the exact same high quality as on the recordings, although at times were a little light in the mix and therefore not always clear. This showed that they are a band which focuses purely on the music they create and don’t allow too much to be cleaned up in the studio.
The opening section was songs from the album The 59 Sound, they really begin to relax into the set and seemed to be taking genuine delight in the boisterous singing, arm waving and rapturous applause from the crowd. Fallon seemed at home on stage leading the audience in their sing-a-long and took an opportunity early on to engage with them between tracks. He spoke to the crowd in a naturally witty, relaxed and humble fashion.
‘The Queen Of Lower Chelsea’, with its soft beginning leading into an explosive flurry of drums, hyped the crowd perfectly before the expression of their vocal enthusiasm which was to follow. The rasping shouting that accompanied the chorus of ‘45’ filled the room. A few songs later when they had just began to recover the venue erupted with frenzied jumping and fists jabbing into the air as they played ‘1930’.
The band endeared themselves increasingly to everyone watching over the course of the night. They played the songs people wanted to hear, and seemed to be taking genuine pride and pleasure from witnessing so much joy from their fans. On the few occasions when they spoke to the audience it was personable, funny and gave the impression that they were no different from us and felt lucky to be in the position they are.
Fallon’s trademark vocals were effortlessly good and rousing. As a band they showed a musical tightness which stems from a personal bond. They clearly loved playing together, often sharing smiles and encouraging each other to go for it. The drums were more prominent and driving than in the recordings and this only added to the notion of what an exhilarating live performance this was.