A few eyebrows were raised when Brian Fallon announced his debut solo headline tour of the UK, playing in the same venues his band The Gaslight Anthem typically play, but following the hugely successful release of album Painkillers suddenly the venue selections seemed justified, but how did the show go down?
Opening up was New Jersey native Jared Hart (of The Scandals), who also appeared later as a guitarist in Brian Fallon’s backing band ‘The Crowes’. With a surprisingly gargantuan voice, Hart won over the early doors crowd with ease, especially when stopping mid-way through his first song to help a lady at the front get medical help. Tracks from debut album Past Lives & Pass Lines acted as the perfect warm-up, ‘The Runaround’ and ‘Totem’ proving to be highlights, with a cover of Billy Bragg’s ‘New England’ acting as the sucker punch.
Good Old War certainly drew their own audience tonight; with the tour representing their first ever shows on these shores. Playing as a two-piece (sans former member Tim Arnold), Good Old War had the room in the palm of their collective hand immediately. ‘Window’ and ‘Coney Island’ displayed their luscious harmonies, while new single ‘Tell Me What You Want From Me’ was reminiscent of The Lumineers. The set was simple and understandably safe for a first time tour and who can blame them? It went down a treat with the room.
Opening straight into ‘Red Lights’ followed by ‘Rosemary’ (one of the highlights from Painkillers) and ‘I Witnessed a Crime’, Brian Fallon and the Crowes made it clear from the off that tonight was going to be a celebration of Fallon’s back catalogue. From the first chord of the first song, everyone in the room hung on every word that Fallon spoke and sung, new tracks like ‘Painkillers’ and ballad ‘Steve Mcqueen’ felt like old favourites, while ‘Sugar’ and real set stand-out ‘Ladykiller’ sounded as strong as ever.
Brian Fallon has always appeared completely at home on stage and tonight was no different, cracking jokes with the band, singling out members of the audience and all with the feeling that was exactly how he is offstage. It takes an awful lot to handle an audience with such ease, but Fallon made it seem effortless.
Prior to the release of his solo album, footage emerged online of a track called ‘Low Love’ which many were surprised didn’t make Painkillers, however tonight it became clear that ‘Low Love’ has in fact been saved for a Record Store Day release, and further adding to the notion that Fallon cannot write a bad b-side (see ‘Blue Dahlia’, ‘Hold You Up’, ‘Blue Jeans & White T-shirts’). A punishing ‘Mary-Ann’ followed by a properly anthemic ‘Behold The Hurricane’ closed the show with aplomb, Fallon sticking to his rule of no encores.
Tonight’s performance offered a walk through Fallon’s glittering discography for old and new fans alike, and if one criticism could be made it would be the lack of ‘Blues Mary’, however that would be picky. We don’t know how long it will be until The Gaslight Anthem return, but if this is what we get in the meantime then they can take as long as they like, as it was a joy to see Fallon onstage with a smile again.