Ahead of new album, 'Handwritten'
The Gaslight Anthem - Live At KOKO, London

It’s an awkward and self-indulgent situation when a band decides to put on a show doused with songs purely from their new record. Cough - Radiohead - cough. This is a thought that must be on everyone’s mind tonight ahead of the release of The Gaslight Anthem’s new album ‘Handwritten’, but one that needn't be.

Opening the set with ‘Great Expectations’, it is made obvious from early on that Gaslight are here to purely entertain their loyal fans with their favorites, not to market to them a complete set of new material they haven’t even heard before. In fact, they do quite the opposite of playing new songs, they play very early songs like their ode to Joe Strummer, ‘I’da Called You Woody, Joe’, taken from their early effort ‘Sink or Swim’. A new song they do play though is ’45’, a tune that is rightly getting major radio play. Although still in its early days, it’s clear that this is not far off being an encore song for them that’ll replace the soon to be worn out ‘The ’59 Sound’.

They also mix these faster well known favorites with some of their quieter subdued anthems through the likes of ‘Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid’ and ‘She Loves You’, quickly throwing the crowd out of their heated frenzy and into some sort of arm waving generic hippie love-in.

The New Jersey band also mess about with a few covers tonight: The Animals’ ‘House of the Rising Sun’ and The Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ - which they close the set with. They stay true to the song’s originality, avoiding the sped up renditions that some punk bands intend on doing; just an added grittiness from Fallon’s scratchy vocals alters it enough to make it a Gaslight experience rather than a pure cover.

It’s impossible to hate Brian Fallon. His sheer geekiness onstage in his attempts of being a guitar free frontman is hilarious. Using hand gestures to literally mimic the words in “memories are sinking ships” from ‘Old Haunts’ to jumping into the crowd from the speakers in which the fans drop him in an half arsed crowd surf attempt to wearing an honest cheshire cat smile throughout, Fallon just gives the room a positive energy that many modern rock bands simply cannot give.
They Tweet afterwards that this London show was in their top five - and it’s no wonder. The unending support and energy from the crowd throughout along with an almost never ending catalogue of feel good anthems from all corners of their career really highlighted how far this cult band have come. It’s a sad yet happy prospect, but there’s a feeling that this band won’t be a cult one for much longer.

Words by Jamie Carson
Photo by Stephen Fourie

Click here for a photo gallery of the gig.

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