Last year US rockers the Gaslight Anthem announced that the band were heading into an indefinite hiatus.
These days the band’s frontman Brian Fallon has been focussing his efforts on his solo project, which culminated in the release of his new album Painkillers earlier this year.
Today is Black Friday, but the music fans of the North East are not out looking to find a last minute bargain, but instead they arrive in their droves at the O2 Academy Newcastle. It’s been almost six years to the day since Fallon’s last performance in the city, which was a sold out show in this very same room with the Gaslight Anthem during the band’s American Slang tour. Tonight he is joined by his five-piece band, The Crowes.
Quite often you find when an artist goes solo and you see them perform live, you get the distinct feeling that the crowd are waiting to hear the greatest hits of their former band. However, this is most definitely not the case this evening; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Tonight’s show draws upon Fallon’s many projects including The Horrible Crowes, Molly and The Zombies as well as his current solo album and the audience embrace every single song of his 90-minute set with open arms. Fallon senses that he has found his people in Newcastle tonight, each song is greeted with rapturous applause.
There is a real anthemic quality to many of the tracks on Fallon’s latest album Painkillers, and you can feel that even more so as they are performed live. The likes of heartfelt “Honey Magnolia”, “Steve McQueen”, and “Smoke” have the audience and Fallon singing along in unison, you can really feel the connection in the room. These are future classics in the making.
Not only is Brian Fallon an incredible performer and songwriter, but his witty onstage banter keeps the audience thoroughly entertained throughout. Whether he is comparing his native “Jersey Shore” with Newcastle’s “Geordie Shore”, enthusiastically discussing his sock collection, belting out a few bars of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” on his acoustic guitar or making observations of those along the front row, the laughter flows – he may well have missed his vocation as a stand-up comedian.
Fallon enlightens the audience that one of his favourite artists comes from Newcastle, and as the crowd shout out suggestions like Sting or Bryan Ferry, much to his amusement, he divulges that it is, in fact, Mark Knopfler. Subsequently, he breaks into a passionate rendition of “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits, and the band have this song down to perfection.
As the band head into the final third of their set, they pick up the pace with the likes of The Horrible Crowes “Mary Ann” and “Crush”, alongside the incredible “Rosemary”, which almost has that classic American rock sound formula which the Gaslight Anthem did so well. Fallon’s main set is brought to a close with “A Wonderful Life”, which encapsulates that distinct sound of the Jersey Shore, and is one of the many standout songs of the set.
Tonight there is no false endings, no encore, but as the rest of the band leaves the stage Brian Fallon delivers one more song, he stands alone. The night is a brought to a close with a beautiful rendition of Gaslight Anthem’s “National Treasures”.
Brian Fallon appears to be humbled by the Geordie crowd in attendance tonight. The people of Newcastle join Brian Fallon’s long list of admirers which includes “The Boss” himself Bruce Springsteen, we are obviously in good company.
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