The Gaslight Anthem pack the Rivera Theater

All three levels on the floor, the balcony, and even the aisles were filled at The Rivera Theater Friday, March 1 for The Gaslight Anthem with supporting acts The Bouncing Souls and Cory Branan.

As the Bouncing Souls played, the backdrop for Gaslight Anthem loomed above the stage, with “New Jersey” inscribed on the bottom. It was fitting for The Bouncing Souls as well, a fellow Jersey-born band.

Throughout The Bouncing Souls’ short set, crowds slowly grew. The set covered a relatively large range of the band’s catalogue, with “Hopeless Romantic” from the eponymous 1999 album, to tracks like “Comet” and their closing with “Ship in a Bottle” from 2012’s “Comet.”

By the time The Bouncing Souls left the stage, Riviera security guards were already turning away new concertgoers wishing to push their way into the pit. If they hadn’t already been on the lowermost level, they were forced to find another spot in the over-packed theatre. Luckly, the conditions were worth it for Gaslight Anthem.

The band took the stage to Van Halen’s “Jump,” showing the playful side of the band. It’s hard to find humor in the oft-heartbreaking lyrics of frontman Brian Fallon, but it’s certainly there. A drum roll from Benny Horowitz ushered in “High Lonesome,” followed by “High” and “American Slang,” talking on tracks from their last three albums right off the bat.

As with every performance, Brian Fallon connects so easily to the crowd. His voice carries the gritty and raw emotion on recorded tracks, but there’s a certain something about Fallon’s voice that can only be captured in a live performance with sweaty bodies singing along

Throughout the balance between The Gaslight Anthem’s three most-known albums (“’59 Sound,” “American Slang” and “Handwritten”) was distributed relatively evenly, an obvious emphasis was put on “Handwritten,” the band’s 2012 release, playing all but two songs off that album.

The set was heavy on music, which seems absolutely ridiculous to have to mention, but oftentimes artists interject lots of breaks, banters and whatever else they feel necessary. It’s refreshing to see a show driven by the music. That’s what everyone comes for, right? It must be that good ol’ New Jersey way, or something.

Later in the night the band hit on some of their older tracks playing two songs off 2007’s “Sink or Swim.” “I’da Called You Woody, Joe,” a tribute to The Clash’s Joe Strummer was followed by “We’re Getting a Divorce, You Keep the Diner,” a throwback to the punk roots of the Gaslight Anthem.

The pre-encore set ended with “Great Expectations,” but Fallon chose to skip the customary band walk off to return minutes later to actually finish the set. Fallon told the crowd he hates the tradition and wishes the band could just play the set all the way through each night. So they just went ahead and did just that.

It shouldn’t be surprising Fallon and the rest of the band isn’t for the ego-boosting encore tradition; they’re not in the game of being blown-up rock stars – they’re here to play music. It makes for an honest, heartfelt quality performance.

The pseudo-encore was complete with a cover of The Misfits’ “Astro Zombies,” part of what Fallon called “The Misfits trilogy” of the night. The Bouncing Souls played their part in completing the trilogy with their cover of “Hybrid Moments,” but Cory Branan failed to complete the trilogy. Perhaps it’s better that only the Jersey bands paid homage to their home state brethren.

The night ended with “The Backseat,” the closing track on “’59 Sound” and a perfect ending to the set as well. The performance was everything expected from a great Gaslight show, which means a damn good performance, but all night there was something seemingly missing: “’59 Sound” failed to make the set list cut. It’s now been five years since the song was released, but it’s arguably one of the band’s most well-known songs and leaving it out of the night seems ridiculous.



For more pictures: