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Concert review: The Gaslight Anthem keeps it simple, nostalgic in Newport show

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(From left) Alex Rosamilia, Alex Levine, Brian Fallon and Ben Horowitz of the Gaslight Anthem. Credit: Drew Gurian

(From left) Alex Rosamilia, Alex Levine, Brian Fallon and Ben Horowitz of the Gaslight Anthem.
Credit: Drew Gurian

“The last day of tour feels like the last day of high school,” said singer and guitarist Brian Fallon during a Saturday night show.

The sold out concert at Newport Music Hall was the last of the Gaslight Anthem’s spring North American tour, with support from opening bands Northcote and Sammy Kay.

This was the first show I had been to at the Newport as an Ohio State student. The first time I went to the venue was to see pop-punk band All Time Low for my 13th birthday.

One of the things my friend and I noticed while waiting for the Gaslight Anthem to come on was that the audience was older than we expected — if I had to guesstimate a mean/median/whatever, I’d say the average age was 28. There were bros in baseball caps and girls in leather jackets with crossed arms.

The next realization was that I’m one of them. I’m older too. So before the band even took the stage, I was feeling some kind of nostalgic way.

The Gaslight Anthem took the stage simply. There wasn’t a dramatic intro with lights or a splashy banner behind them. They opened with “Have Mercy,” a song off their latest album, “Get Hurt.”

The Gaslight Anthem played simply. Fallon’s voice adds a soulful element to their songs, which can get repetitive as most of their songs tend to follow the same formula. The band went back and forth between playing older songs and new ones.

They slowed down their tempo when they played “Great Expectations.” I used to not be a fan of the “cool down” period of a concert. I wanted to keep that bouncy, Red Bull-fueled energy going. But, especially for a band like the Gaslight Anthem, it was true to their sound. They aren’t a “in-your-face band.” They’re a “listen-to-this-when-you’re-missing-someone-or-some-feeling” kind of band.

Guitarists Alex Rosamilia and Alex Levine would lean in to their guitars and bounce around a bit while playing, clearly enjoying themselves. But there weren’t any over-practiced cliche moves like flips or turning in circles while playing. Picks weren’t thrown into the audience after each song for girls to fight over. The band just played.

And the audience listened. Some stood in place, heads bobbing. One group of guys in front of me, all clad in studded leather vests, would frequently throw their arms around each other and enthusiastically sing together.

The audience cheered, without the band ever immaturely prompting them with an “I know you can get louder than that, Columbus!”

In summary, the Gaslight Anthem didn’t put on a show. They performed. They played. But they never made themselves into a spectacle or something they’re not — which, I think, is part of growing up.

 

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