Now this was one gig that I had been looking forward to for absolutely ages. The Gaslight Anthem – one of the most exciting bands of recent times – were playing at the infamous Hammersmith Apollo; an opportunity I simply couldn’t turn down.
We arrived as the doors opened, and to my amazement, managed to get right to the barrier, only metres away from my favourite band! This was the closest I had ever been to any band on stage, never mind The Gaslight Anthem!!
The night began with Sharks, a punk band from Leamington Spa, near Birmingham, who delivered an energetic set tinged with rock n roll, with enough power behind them to warm up even the quietest among us! The band, who were highly recommended by Kerrang! a while ago, have racked up an impressive record in terms of who they have supported. Past headline acts include Gallows, The King Blues and Lostprophets.
The next act was Chuck Ragan, one of my new favourite singer/songwriters. The ex-member of Hot Water Music was accompanied by Jon Gaunt on the fiddle, and the duo gave for a simple, yet powerful delivery. Chuck, although relatively new to me, was clearly well known to a large part of the audience, and songs such as ‘Do You Pray’ and ‘For Broken Ears’ were performed with true emotion, and it was clear that Chuck and Jon put everything into their performance.
Chuck left us all in good spirits for the band everyone had been waiting for. The crowd went wild as The Gaslight Anthem took to the stage. Surprisingly, the first song that the band erupted into was High Lonesome, from the ’59 Sound, not that I had any complaints. It was to be the start of a very good night!
Following this came a few songs from the new album, American Slang, including The Diamond Church Street Choir, one of my favourites! Other highlights for me included Great Expectations, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Casanova, Baby! and I Coul’da Been A Contender. The band ripped through these tracks, with barely a pause.
However, there was one point during the evening, when Brian stopped us all for a few minutes, to let us know just how much the show actually meant to them. He told us that a few years ago, they had been travelling through the streets of London, late at night, after headlining at a much smaller club (I can’t remember the name) and Brian was woken up by his bandmates who pointed out the Apollo, which their hero, Bruce Springsteen had famously played in 1975. Brian told us that he had made a promise to the rest of the band that ‘they would play there one day,’ expecting to be back in maybe a decade. Yet only two or three years later, there they were, headlining at The Apollo. So the night was a big moment, not just for me and the rest of the crowd, but for everybody in the band!
Throughout the night, there was not a single bad song. In my opinion, every song was performed to perfection. Brian alternated between guitar and just vocals, which apparently was also another first for the band, allowing him to pay much more attention to us in the crowd!
The slow songs were also played at exactly the right moments. Rather than killing the momentum, the catchy, singalong choruses of songs such as ‘She Loves You’ and ‘Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid’ were a perfect finisher to an amazing night!
Below, you can find the entire setlist. The pictures throughout are from gigwise.com.