Last Night: Gaslight Anthem at House of Blues
At 10 p.m. sharp Thursday night, as Cutting Crew's "(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight" blared on the speakers overheard, the Jersey-born and -bred, punk rock five-piece The Gaslight Anthem sauntered out onto the stage at House of Blues. Fans cheered, and the band began its set with "High Lonesome," an uptempo ballad that addresses the clash between dreams and reality.
It was a fitting opener for a band that, by all accounts, is living the dream and is arguably near the height of its career, though its members are surely working their hardest to balance their stage personas with with the day-to-day struggles of being brothers, husbands and fathers.
Though it can't be easy, The Gaslight Anthem may be the very band to pull it off.
Led by vocalist Brian Fallon, the band's songs, heavily influenced (and endorsed) by the one and only Bruce Springsteen, create a paradox of accessible rhythms and beats, laced with complex lyricism. The themes are easy enough to follow, but Fallon must be the only contemporary vocalist who can write a song, pleading with the crowd to let him keep some of his life private ("Too Much Blood"), then convincingly sing another from a woman's perspective ("Here Comes My Man").
He writes of heartbreak, both romantic and familial; he sings of friends who have died, paying homage to their memories; he manages to reference Elvis, The Counting Crows and Tom Petty in a single song; and he speaks of a mother so strong than neither she, nor he, needs that deadbeat's approval or attention.
"It's been 31 years since she's been in your arms," Fallon crooned, near the end of Thursday night's performance. "But don't worry 'bout Mama; Mama's got a good heart. And I'm not looking for your love; I'm only sniffing out blood. Just a little taste of where I came from."
Though he may not be looking for affirmation from his father, Fallon and the rest of Gaslight were notably put off by House of Blues' chatty crowd Thursday night, seamlessly transitioning from one song to the next, performing nearly 25 songs in barely over 90 minutes.