Brian Fallon brings his band to Bristol as part of a seven-date tour throughout the UK to promote his debut solo album, Painkillers.

The O2 is filling up early, making a nice change to see a full house for the first of three acts tonight. Maybe it’s because the first act is Fallon’s guitarist, Jared Hart, from Bayonne, New Jersey. Fitting into the Bruce Springsteen/Gaslight Anthem school of rock, the tunes go down well. “Totem” offers a mellow love song interlude in the middle of a New Jersey rock set. The loudest cheer of the night is saved for a cover of Rancid’s, “Olympia WA.” Hart finished his outstanding musical selection with the ever-growing crowd warmed up the evening to come.

Good Old War is singer/guitarist duo Keith Goodwin and Dan Schwartz, offering folk/rock songs with a little bit of attitude. Having toured with Brian through America, they are pleased to be chosen to support on the European tour, too.

Comparisons to Simon and Garfunkel are obvious, but the boys are lively customers and don’t stand still for long. Keith especially is expressive as he takes us through “Broken Record” followed by “Coney Island,” a great song.

The set is mixed, with three songs from 2015 release, Broken Into Better Shape and three songs from earlier albums spanning their career. Having wooed the girls singing “Amazing Eyes,” it’s time to end with “Tell Me What You Want From Me” (despite calls from the crowd for Prince’s “Purple Rain”).

The Academy is now full to the brim with an expectant crowd. Brian Fallon hits the stage to rapturous applause. He is joined by two more guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards; they are here to rock.

“Red Lights” opens the set, followed by “Rosemary” from the recently released solo debut, Painkillers. Brian is in a talkative mood as he goes into a surreal chat with subjects ranging from having coffee on Bristol’s Park Street and catching fish by hand, to Cadillac Margaritas to the size of Jared’s beard!

The set is well mixed, with material from the Brian’s other projects, the Horrible Crowes and Molly and the Zombies, along with many tracks from the solo album. “I Witnessed A Crime” from the Horrible Crowes’ Elsie album follows, to great cheers from the crowd.

“Sugar” is another crowd-pleaser, leading to a tale of American Horror Story and people being cut up by witches! “Honey Magnolia” and “Steve McQueen” see Brian transferring to acoustic guitar, and the crowd singing along with gusto to the “You and Me in British Racing Green” lyrics.

After a chatty first half, the second half is song after song in rapid-fire order. “Smoke” starts a batch of tunes which have the crowd singing and clapping along. A run of Horrible Crowes songs finishes the set, ending with the fan favourite, “Behold The Hurricane.” It’s over too soon, though, and without an encore, the crowd is left wanting more. Hopefully, it won’t be long before Mr. Fallon is back, in one form or another.

Photos by Donna Coombs

Jared Hart
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Brian Fallon
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O2 Academy Bristol
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