The Gaslight Anthem at Troxy
By the time the support band’s been and gone and the lights go down for the second time, Troxy looks almost over capacity. It’s a crowd that’s bustling and energetic, whistling and chanting towards the stage in anticipation, all smiles and arms across each other’s shoulders: this almost feels like a homecoming gig. And when The Gaslight Anthem finally emerge and rip into the opener, the place goes wild, with an undeniable spirit of camaraderie.
The boys work their way through songs from their first three albums: Film Noir, Old Haunts and their biggest hit to date, the irresistibly catchy The ’59 Sound. It’s really good to see how much they’re obviously enjoying themselves, throwing their instruments into the air and grinning to the audience, who sing along to every word.
After The Spirit of Jazz (one of the group’s most upbeat, goodtime songs, curiously without a jazzy turn in sight), lead singer Brian Fallon addresses the crowd: “You know what we love so much about playing over here?” (turns his back to reach for a water bottle, downing about half of it, to shrieks and screams), “You give me that real old-time vibe!” – and the band break straight into 1930, a favourite from their debut album Sink or Swim.
It would be impossible to ignore the running theme of looking to the past for inspiration, with all the song titles coming from films and artistic movements, lyrics based on literary characters by the likes of Charles Dickens and Allen Ginsburg. You could almost mistake them as postmodern, and in a way they are, with faded denim, 1950s boots and the widely acknowledged nod to Bruce Springsteen in their retro sound, but this is the clincher: it seems really to be about a false nostalgia.
The band conjure it like nobody else, and their fans love it. Every song is a sing-a-long and the joy with which blood-and-guts anthems like Handwritten and Keepsake are received is clear. Equally undeniable are their energy and belief, and Fallon’s vocals are consistently soulful. Nonetheless, there is a certain factory-made, if not disposable feeling to The Gaslight Anthem’s high-on-nostalgia-with-pre-packed-emotion product.
For further information and future events visit The Gaslight Anthem’s website here.
Watch the video for Handwritten here: