Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Last of the Jukebox Romeos | The Gaslight Anthem, Olympia Theatre Review

There's something liberating about going to a gig by yourself. Before and afterwards that is. My social anxiety means I hate everything pre-music. The queuing. The groups of people who all know each other. The waiting.

And then the music starts.

On Monday evening I went to Dublin's Olympia Theatre to see my favourite band (who you all need to check out too), The Gaslight Anthem.

With The Gaslight Anthem, there's something comforting about going on your own. I feel safe with the crowd and with the band.

Supported by New Jersey's The Scandals. For those of us not distracted by the absolute beauty that was their lead guitarist, the band put on a great show. Bringing a heavier brand of punk to the Olympia, in between dedicating every song they played to somebody, they sounded really good.
Only two types of people can get away with wearing baseball caps in my opinion. Baseball players, and musicians. And even that second one is sketchy.

And then The Gaslight Anthem burst onto stage with more energy than a 4 year old on a Bouncy Castle, racing through 4 songs before Brian Fallon even said hello to us. Not that he was able to get the words out for another 2 minutes with all the screaming.

You see, it had been a while. With all that touring the world and putting a new album out every other year, we don't get to see Brian, Alex, Alex and Benny (& Ian) very often. And although a good portion of the crowd had also traveled up to Belfast the night before to see them, we still had two years worth of singing along to get out.

Brian is known for his onstage monologues. It can try even the most patient of crowds, but I could listen his ramblings all night.
And in one that started with U2 owning a box in the Olympia, he said that he wished he could write songs that make you feel and give you chills - like U2's I Still Haven't Found What You're Looking For. One look at Monday night's crowd and you can safely say he's already doing that.

From opening with '45, to classics like Navesink Banks, to playing some rarely heard live songs like Here's Looking at You Kid this performance had everything. They're not afraid to slow things down only to up the ante straight after.

And as Brian pointed out at the end, Dublin is a crowd that appreciate the silences. When it came to Sweet Morphine, Keepsake or a heartbreaking acoustic version of Great Expectations, the whole theatre either stood in respectful silence, swayed or sang along. Because this wasn't like any other time we'd seen Gaslight. Through the raw emotion of the Get Hurt album, we all knew what Brian has been going through. And we were right on that journey with him.

And the slowed down version of Great Expectations highlighted this more than other song they sang. The chorus has taken on a whole new meaning in light of Brian's recent divorce:
And I saw daylights last night in a dream about my first wife 
Everybody leaves and I'd expect as much from you.
Notably absent was Get Hurt. Or pretty much any song from that new album. Perhaps the often dark themes of the songs have proven themselves too much to bring on stage every night. (Notable exceptions were Stray Paper, Underneath the Ground and Sweet Morphine)
But nobody was complaining. Classics from Sink or Swim, The 59 Sound, American Slang and Handwritten all made the cut. And having Andy Diamond present when The Diamond Church Street Choir was sung was a novelty.

Dismissing an encore to give us extra songs like We Came to Dance and The 59 Sound the show reached a pinnacle. But not to end without a bang, the final song invited The Scandals' Jared Hart on stage for We're Getting a Divorce. And it was awesome.

There was something about the Olympia on Monday evening. Maybe it was the set list. Or how much has changed since The Gaslight Anthem last graced us.

But it felt like a homecoming.


  1. Hey, found this post on twitter and felt compelled to leave a comment because I went to this gig alone myself so I can really relate to what you were saying, I think being such a big Gaslight fan dispelled any awkwardness pretty quickly. Especially the 4 song run of 45, 59 sound, We came to dance, and Backstreets, which nearly blew the roof off the place. Playing all my favourites (Blue Dahlia, Handwritten, almost playing Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts), it was almost the perfect gig!

    On a side note, Brian seems in much better form than his last show here. He didn't play a lot of the Get Hurt album either, so I assume he's over the period of his life thankfully, which is nice to see.

    1. Hi John, thanks for reaching out! I rarely get to talk to fellow TGA fans so this is a nice comment to receive!
      Definitely understand what you're saying. They come over so infrequently that it was either or go alone or wait another two years! If only they'd played Blue Jeans and White T-shirts (and maybe Miles Davis and the Cool) it probably would have been the best night of life.

      And I agree, it was so nice to see Brian more confident and all-around happy. But I nearly did cry at the poignancy of Great Expectations.

      What a fantastic gig we found ourselves at!