As you walked into Music Hall of Williamsburg, the anticipation was so intense, Moses could not even part it like he did the Red Sea. It was the first show that New Jersey's Gaslight Anthem were doing since they finished recording their latest record, Handwritten, which is scheduled for a July release via Mercury Records. The gig, which sold-out in minutes, had fans around the world viewing via a Livestream feed set up around the intimate Brooklyn venue. This gig was not part of a tour, and the stream was mainly for those who were shut out of getting in. This gig was not just a platform for the band to debut new songs (which they did); it it was also more than that. It was for the fans. It was for something so much bigger than Gaslight Anthem themselves -- it was for the people.
As the lights dimmed and crowd began to scream, Beastie Boys "Sabotage" was played over the loud speakers, a fitting tribute to one of Brooklyn's finest who just passed away -- Adam Yauch. The band walked out to thunderous applause and as "Sabotage" faded away and "Great Expectations" set the tone right away. It was as if a bomb went off with all of the cheers and the crowd singing so loud. If you were standing in the back you hardly heard singer Brian Fallon's vocals. This seemed to be the theme of the night. It was then into "Old White Lincoln," then into "American Slang" and "Diamond Street Choir," a thunderous way to open the night.
Fallon would eventually address the audience and thank them for coming. He compared the streaming event to a celebrity that would be too cool to show up to an award show to collect an award. He would then call out Axl Rose and called him "a pig," and told the audience to go back and listen to Appetite for Destruction to hear the negative things Rose said about women. Fallon showed the world the type of guy he was -- a stand-up blue collar singer who wont back down from his beliefs, it is his honesty and charm as a person and as a lyricist that has carried this band's success through the years. Fallon would then tease the crowd about the Rangers / Devils game being played the same night (the band made special shirts for the gig that parodied the emblems of both teams) and as the crowd began to chant the team they were supporting, Fallon joked, "We are sending all the proceeds to [Sean] Avery, he needs a job." While Fallon's stage banter is second to none, it was all about the music. With songs played like "The '59 Sound," "Miles Davis & the Cool," "The Backseat," "Bring It On," and their latest single, "45," Gaslight Anthem had the crowd rocking and rolling for the near two hour set.
As the night went on, the band debuted new songs off of Handwritten, which is what everyone was hoping for. The record will not be out for a few months, but from what everyone heard, it is going to be worth the wait, a great batch of new tracks. As everyone felt they got their money's worth, Fallon did mention to everyone in the room and everyone watching at home that the band is starting a fan club, much like their hero's Pearl Jam, for members to get free material from the band as well as tickets before anyone else. The show at Music Hall was such a hot commodity for scalpers many fake tickets were printed or bought at face value and resold at a much higher price, something which clearly upset the band. As the band announced a North American tour for the summer, mainly of clubs and festivals, the band hopes to ebb the conflict between fans and scalpers -- and they rightfully should. As for everyone inside that got in, it was a special night, and just as everyone could not think it could get any better, it did: As the band kicked into a magnificent cover of The Who's "Baba O'Reilly." A perfect way to end a perfect gig, this was one for the ages!