Brian Fallon sings like there isn’t a trace of darkness on the edge of the towns he so frequently visits in the Gaslight Anthem’s songs. Like his hero Bruce Springsteen, he may set himself up as sort of a downcast loser looking for one big score so he can blow this luckless place, but he’s an optimist at heart — a guy with visions and hopes as big as his songs.
On the Gaslight Anthem’s latest album, the terrific American Slang, Fallon introduces us to a world of winners, losers, dreamers, and schemers. It’s all mythical rock & roll stuff ripped straight from Springsteen’s playbook.
It’s no surprise the Gaslight Anthem hail from New Jersey. It’s also no surprise that they put on a classic-rock show at House of Blues last night that was as rousing as it was precise in its determination to deliver something Bruce would be proud of.
The Gaslight Anthem aren’t quite to that point yet (last night’s concert was not the second coming of Springsteen’s legendary 1978 tour sets). But there were moments where they certainly acted like they were.
Opening with two of their best songs — “High Lonesome” and “Boxer” — the Gaslight Anthem’s 90-minute set was filled with cuts from their last two albums: Slang and 2008’s equally terrific The ’59 Sound.
The band tore through two dozen songs, barely stopping for breath. Their set was rigidly adhered to. Unlike Springsteen, Fallon didn’t stop to tell the audience stories. But he didn’t need to. His enthusiastic fans hung on every word he sang, often joining him on the big choruses (and sometimes the verses too).
Nothing was drastically reworked onstage, and nothing was revelatory. The Gaslight Anthem’s best songs on record were the ones that worked the best in concert last night: “American Slang,” “Miles Davis & the Cool,” “The’59 Sound,” “Great Expectations,” and the closing number, “The Backseat,” where the band’s punk roots exploded from every chord. —Michael Gallucci
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