With 2018 marking the 10th anniversary of arguably The Gaslight Anthem’s best record The ’59 Sound, most fans of the band are waiting eagerly for their reunion shows in July. For those who have followed the career of frontman Brian Fallon since then though, were excited to see the New Jersey singer showcasing his second solo record Sleepwalkers in Leeds on Friday night.
Fans there to see reworked Gaslight material though will have been disappointed as the night was for one thing, and one thing only, demonstrating the vast musical ability of Brian Fallon and not his old band. The set was formed of predominantly tracks from the album released only a few weeks ago as well as plenty of room to air debut solo record Painkillers and tracks from his various side projects down the years.
The set was opened by Fallon taking to his keyboard and playing a stripped back rendition of Sleepwalkers, welcomed by the crowd as well as it could have been for an album track on a record released just a few weeks prior. Three more of the standout tracks from the new album followed with A Wonderful Life thrown in for good measure. Fallon wasted no time finding his groove and looked relaxed and composed from the second he started.
His crowd interaction was as good as I can remember from an artist from out of town. Not familiar with the Leeds chants of “Yorkshire, Yorkshire…”, he attempted to teach the local crowd how to do a proper U.S style chant. A hilarious 15 minutes ensued and the adoring fans were in raptures, enjoying this intimate experience with one of heartland-rock’s most famous exports.
The mid set mix of tracks from The Horrible Crows LP and his Molly and the Zombies project offered a welcome change of sound and style and by the time he reached Etta James, everyone in the capacity crowd was in good voice and enjoying the special night they realised they were a part of. Fallon’s vocals throughout were as good as I’ve heard from him and Etta James confirmed that the singers voice is going to be the strongest it’s ever been when he takes the stage with The Gaslight Anthem later on in the year.
The encore was the highlight of the entire night though. Opening with a rendition of the great ’59 Sound, the loudest singalong of the evening was heard as the Gaslight fans belted the classic track back to Fallon. It was a fantastic taste of what’s to come this year and was a great, unexpected addition to what was already a near-perfect set. Fallon jokingly exclaimed that all he knows how to write songs about is death, and See You On The Other Side was a solemn, but wonderful end to the original material on the set. An inspired encore choice that left the crowd wanting more.
Dave Hause, who had performed an extended 45 minute supporting set to a packed Beckett room, re-emerged to perform the final cover of the night with Fallon, a fantastic version of Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Whilst Hause’s vocals are superior to that of Fallon’s, the New Jersey rocker still held the crowd and his stage presence has always been what’s made his performances so memorable. A top end to an unforgettable night. Roll on July and the 10th Anniversary of one of the 00s greatest records.