Gaslight Anthem

Gaslight Anthem: See you on the flip side

Gaslight Anthem | O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire | 29 August 2015

“Lush pancakes? Is that what you’re saying?” Brian Fallon laughs.

The punter shouts something at the stage again.

“You want me to sing ‘happy birthday’, is that it?” the singer asks, all mock indignation. He breaks out into a huge grin. “I’m not yo’ puppet!”

Whether he’s teasing audience members, introducing the army of Skeletor figurines on the guitar amps, or making finger pistols at the sound man in the wings, The Gaslight Anthem frontman is clearly in a very good mood. Especially for someone who’s about to pack this all in – for now at least.

“We’re all going to do other projects and stay active in some way or another, both in and out of music, but we’d like to step away from the band until we decide what we’d like to do next,” Fallon, Alex Rosamilia, Alex Levine, and Benny Horowitz announced in July. Tonight’s their penultimate show together before taking that indefinite break. But nobody mentions it. And nobody – from the man in the suit reenacting Michael Stipe’s seizure-dance to the peroxide blonde who twice crowd surfs into a security guard’s arms – seems particularly bummed. Like most of the group’s tunes, this a celebration, not a downer.

So over 90 minutes and 24 songs, the New Jersey natives take a full-throttle drive through their eight-year career. After kicking off with high-octane renditions of the hits ‘Handwritten’, ‘Rollin’ And Tumblin’’, and ‘Old White Lincoln’, they take a detour onto the backstreets. Early songs like ‘Drive’,‘Señor And The Queen’, ‘I Coulda Been A Contender’, and ‘Boombox And Dictionaries’ are interspersed with much-loved album tracks and B-sides like ‘She Loves You’, ‘Howl’, ‘Too Much Blood’, ‘Old Haunts’, ‘The Diamond Church Street Choir’, and ‘The Patient Ferris Wheel’.

Frank Turner, the group’s “most favorite person from all of England” shows up for a slow, moving duet of ‘Great Expectations’, before The Gaslight Anthem push the pedal to the floor. Their signature songs ‘American Slang’, ‘45’, and ‘The ‘59 Sound’ performed in quick succession creates another moshpit frenzy – and even more enthusiastic Stipe-dancing – before they crash the car with ‘We’re Getting A Divorce, You Keep The Diner’.

An inspired choice, its closing words are the ultimate so-long: “Stay hungry, stay free / And do the best you can.”

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