On a beautiful Tuesday evening Boy Child and I boarded the 525 to Glasgow. Fortunately, it wasn’t quite as hot as the last time we had attempted to get to Glasgow on the 525 and this one actually made it to the city’s Central Station on time.
Who had we escaped to see?
Well, we were headed for Barrowlands to see The Gaslight Anthem.
The New Jersey based band have been on hiatus for the past three years but have come together to play a series of shows to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their album The ’59 Sound. Glasgow was lucky enough to play host to one of these shows and we had been lucky enough to secure tickets for this sell out event.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again- I’m not a fan of Barrowlands as a venue. I know it has an iconic place in Glasgow’s musical heritage but it just doesn’t do it for me. Sorry. Boy Child’s first comment as we entered the room raised a wistful smile. Looking up he said, “They need a bigger glitter ball.” (R.I.P. O2 ABC Glitter Ball – still in mourning)
Opening act of the night was Matthew Ryan, a singer/songwriter form Chester PA. Instantly easy to listen to, Matthew Ryan and his band played a heart-warming seven song set. As much a storyteller as a singer. Matthew Ryan quickly had the growing Glasgow crowd on side. There was a gentleness to this opening act that is rare to see. Loved it!
I knew that the published support act had been unable to fulfil the commitment but I hadn’t heard who had replaced them. A few clues sat on stage – a ukulele and a mandolin- plus Matthew Ryan dropped another hint by mentioning Dave.
Much to my delight, and Boy Child’s, Dave Hause, accompanied by his brother Tim Hause, were next up on stage. I love this guy! He appeared a little more sombre than the norm as he opened his forty-minute set with Time Will Tell. By now the venue was almost full and from the fans’ reaction, Dave Hause could have been the headline act. Glasgow loves this boy from Philly. He delighted me by playing two of my personal favourites Autism Vaccine Blues and C’mon Kid. Awesome songs!
His next song, more than a little tongue in cheek and played on the ukulele, was dedicated to the president of the United States. The song title – Dirty F***ker! The most bizarre instrument of the evening made an appearance during this ditty as Tim Hause played a melodica- weird wee thing! All good light-hearted fun.
Strap lock disaster struck a moment or two later as Dave’s gorgeous Martin acoustic slipped towards the floor. Not sure if he caught it before it hit the stage but he was not too impressed judging by the look on his face. Holding the guitar by the neck, he held it up for all to see then stepped forwards and passed it to a girl on the rail. Nice souvenir!
Now minus his six-stringed friend, Dave finished off the set vocals only, leaving his young brother to play guitar. Dave rounded off his set with The Woodpile amid promises to be back in town soon. We’ll be there.
As the time approached for the headliners to take to the stage I grew a little concerned. The tour was billed as a celebration of The ’59 Sound- what if that was all that they played? Turns out I needn’t have fretted.
At 9:15 amid huge cheers from the capacity crowd, The Gaslight Anthem stepped out on stage to open the show with Handwritten. The room went wild! A sign that the next hour and forty-five minutes were going to be lively. (Pushy jumpy crowd)
This was only the second time I’d seen Brian Fallon front the band and, to be honest, I have mixed memories from that last Gaslight Anthem show in 2015. He’d seemed so reserved and almost sullen that night, a far cry from the relaxed, smiling chatty Brian that I have seen several times since. Again, I needn’t have worried. While he didn’t chat to the crowd too much (he really does struggle to understand the Glasgow accents!) the smile was there and the twinkle in his eyes.
Old Haunts and The Spirit Of Jazz swiftly followed before the band began the whole ’59 Sound experience. Yes, they played all twelve tracks in order! WOW! Where to begin to describe that? Great Expectations we certainly had and the band lived up to them and then some!
I’m not about to wax lyrical about every track – WHEW I hear you cry!
Highlights for me were The ’59 Sound itself (although I will confess to preferring the solo performance Brian Fallon gave of this earlier this year), Film Noir, The Patient Ferris Wheel and Even Cowgirls Get The Blues (Boy Child was absolutely thrilled to hear this one live at last). It’s hard to believe that these songs are ten years old. They all sound so fresh. Perhaps its because the band are on hiatus and the set isn’t road weary. Perhaps it’s just because these and the others from the album are just awesome timeless songs.
Watching the band interact with each other – or not interact- was intriguing. They are all skilled musicians, super skilled. I’ll admit to having a soft spot for guitarist Alex Rosamilia and I’d listen to Brian Fallon sing the phone book! Drummer Benny Horowitz was obviously having fun as he grinned out over his drum kit all night. Alex Levine on bass – jury is still out on that. He didn’t appear to interact with any of them all night, leaving me feeling that some of the chemistry is missing. Ian Perkins, the strong silent type on stage, did a sterling job playing guitar and quietly watching proceedings.
With Here’s Looking At You Kid and The Backseat bringing The ’59 Sound to an end, the Gaslight Anthem kept playing, treating the Scottish fans to a further ten songs. Highlights of the second half of the twenty-five song set for me were The Queen Of Lower Chelsea and National Anthem. Love them both!
With the 11pm curfew fast approaching, the Gaslight Anthem brought the evening to a climax with the almighty American Slang, ably assisted by Dave Hause.
Watching the band leave the stage, I couldn’t help but wonder if the hiatus will become permanent and if that was the last time I’d see the band on stage together. To quote Dave Hause “Only time will tell.” One thing’s for sure, this show was a 10th birthday party to remember.