After a few years of hiatus, The Gaslight Anthem finally made their return to the stage with two DC shows earlier this week, and then they hit NYC's Bowery Ballroom last night (5/31). That's a very intimate NYC venue for The Gaslight Anthem, who have headlined much bigger ones in the past and can probably play even bigger ones now that they've been away for a few years, and needless to say, it was PACKED. It also seemed like every single person who made it in was a huge fan (Brian Fallon acknowledged on stage that he knew it wasn't easy to get tickets, and he thanked everyone for making whatever effort they had to make to be there).
This tour is doubly exciting because not only are The Gaslight Anthem back, they're playing their most loved album The '59 Sound start to finish. Before they got to the album, they opened with a few other songs from throughout their career (including "Boomboxes and Dictionaries" from their debut, for which they brought out Laurie Vincent of Slaves [UK] to play fourth guitar), and hearing those songs first made it even more clear how beloved The '59 Sound really is. They had a good chunk of fans singing to the first few songs, but once '59 Sound opener "Great Expectations" came in, the vibe in the room completely changed. A bunch of people from the back of the room pushed forward, a huge pit broke out (and didn't stop until Gaslight got to the slower "Film Noir"), and I'm pretty sure every single person was screaming every word. There was a moment in "Old White Lincoln" where the band was about to play the last chorus but then stopped and let the crowd sing it on their own. Everyone was just as loud as just as enthusiastic as when the band was actually playing, and even the members of The Gaslight Anthem looked impressed. (One thing that seemed clear last night is that these guys don't take their fame for granted.)
As good as a handful of other Gaslight Anthem albums are, The '59 Sound really was the one where they were firing on all cylinders, where every little thing fell into place perfectly, and the band made it feel just like the old days when they played it last night. They weren't rusty, they didn't seem bummed out on doing the nostalgia thing -- they just tore through song after song with all the energy you'd hope for. After they got to the end of side A of The '59 Sound, they took a break from the album to do a few other songs (including "Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?" from the EP that came out a few months before The '59 Sound). That gave the rowdy crowd a break too, especially when they got to the Get Hurt ballad "Underneath the Ground." But after that song, Brian mimicked flipping a record over, said it was time for side B, and the band came roaring back in with "The Patient Ferris Wheel," keeping things on a high until the album's end. Seeing the band rip through these songs, and seeing the crowd reaction to every single one of them, was a real reminder of how flawless The '59 Sound is. Any song could've been a single, and at this point in their career, seeing that album played in full feels like seeing a greatest hits set.
Once the album ended, they mentioned they weren't going to leave the stage for an encore and just play straight through till the end of the show. They did just that, starting with "45," one of their most rockin' and crowdpleasing non-'59 Sound songs, and ending with the driving "We're Getting a Divorce, You Keep the Dinner" from their debut.
The show was a GovBall After Dark show, ahead of The Gaslight Anthem's set at NYC's Governors Ball on Saturday (6/2), where they'll play to a much larger crowd. Their tour continues through august after that.
Setlist and some videos from last night below:
The Gaslight Anthem @ Bowery Ballroom - 5/31/18 Setlist (via)
The Diamond Church Street Choir
Boomboxes and Dictionaries (with Laurie Vincent from Slaves (UK))
The ‘59 Sound - Side A
The '59 Sound
Old White Lincoln
Miles Davis and the Cool
Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?
Underneath the Ground
The ‘59 Sound - Side B
The Patient Ferris Wheel
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Meet Me by the River's Edge
Here's Looking at You, Kid
Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts
We're Getting a Divorce, You Keep the Diner