The Gaslight Anthem - Metro City, Perth 19/05/2013
Sunday night; Not usually associated with seeing great international bands at a packed out gig. But New Jersey rockers, The Gaslight Anthem demand you buck the trend and suck it up at work the next day. Having last toured via the Soundwave Festival two years ago, The Gaslight Anthem have released their most commercially successful album to date, Handwritten, and this tour signifies the completion of their touring of that album. And this is the last show of the Australian Tour.
Opener, Dave Hause, who plays a more forced take on Americana Rock than his host band, resonated with a few of the punters in the rapidly filling crowd. Although at times it became a little bland, (it seemed as if he played two songs, one long acoustic one and one long electric one) how much can one expect from a single dude on stage with a loud guitar and a love of palm muted power chords? The best bits were the fact he was actually quite a funny guy, talking about the tour with great fondness for the ongoing pranks between the two bands, with Brian Fallon sneaking onto the covered drumset awaiting The Gaslight Anthem’s Benny Horowitz and playing ‘ghost drums’ during a couple of songs. When a mysterious green morph suited man, “with a small bulge” was misquoted as being The Gaslight Anthem’s frontman by Dave Hause, Brian made himself known as the drummer, walked out to the microphone and proclaimed “that wasn’t me…I have a huge penis". Dave's set certainly got the crowd pumped up for the headliner however I feel that a better choice of support could have been made; Sure the two ‘bands’ are great friends, but they are just too similar and Dave Hause, although amusing with some on-stage banter and the like, was just too uninteresting to be really entertaining for the whole 45 minutes.
And then... roadies. I suppose one benefit to a solo support is that we get a quick change over between bands. A quick shuffle of roadie goodness and some stage set up and they were done.
The Gaslight Anthem took to the stage to a tremendous applause and started with a small instrumental build-up intro before exploding into set opener, Handwritten’s title track, and the crowd lapped it up like a cat drinking spilt milk. One of the things I immediately noticed was that the instrumental mix was fantastic, especially by front row standards, and I have it on good authority that further back was even better. The vocals were washed out when the three guitars were being thrashed, but there’s little you can do about that when a band is going between a song like ‘Here’s Looking At You, Kid’ and ‘Wooderson’. They played a killer set lasting almost two hours, plucking mainly from sophomore LP The 59’ Sound and Handwritten, as well as throwing a couple covers in for good measure, with a great rendition of Bon Iver’s ‘Blood Bank’ sandwiched in the middle of ‘Angry Johnny and the Radio’ as well as covering The Misfits’ ‘Astro Zombies’ at the drunken request of a Welshman in the crowd. It’s great to see a band as humble as they are, with a little banter between he and the man yelling simply “Play The Misfits!” before they did exactly that.
The sing-happy crowd revelled in all of The Gaslight Anthem’s back catalogue, and a lot of the newer fans belted out their later tracks. I loved the fact that they borrowed heavily from The 59’ Sound as well as even delving a little further back in their career, because there is nothing more infuriating than a band leaning too heavily on the newer more popular material. They clearly do not wish to enrage long-time fans. In fact, it was great hearing the Handrwitten tracks next to old cuts like ‘Senor & The Queen’ because it made me all the more aware that while they are progressing as a band, they are in fact keeping true to their original (59’) sound.
Notable exclusions include ‘1930’ and acoustic number ‘The Navesink Banks’ it would have been nice to hear some sort of acoustic song on the night, whether it be ‘The Navesink Banks’ or ‘Red at Night’ which was only made more frustrating due to the visible acoustic guitar sitting on a rack side stage! The bands’ four song encore was for sure the highlight of the night, with The 59’ Sound closers ‘Here’s Looking At You, Kid’ and ‘The Backseat’ being played back-to-back sending the crowd into a frenzy.
The Gaslight Anthem left, after conquering the crowd’s collective heart with their soulful punk jams, like Rick Blaine in Casablanca leaving, “Here’s looking at you, kid”.