When I first heard that The Gaslight Anthem was playing Chicago, I knew their fans would be excited. Besides festival appearances this would be the band’s first headlining show in over two years. What really caught my attention was when I saw who the two opening act were: The Bouncing Souls and Cory Branan. While many fans were excited to be seeing the already established The Bouncing Souls, it was Branan who I couldn’t wait to see.
Having been familiar with Cory for a couple years, I was interested in seeing how he would translate his usually intimate sets to The Riviera Theater, a larger venue with a sold out crowd. With just his guitar in hand he didn’t disappoint. His set blended both new songs off his recent album Mutt as well as some from earlier material. For anyone who has only heard his songs recorded, you must get out and see him live. What he can do on his guitar while on stage is something many people could only accomplish in a studio after major editing. Ending his set with “A Girl Named Go,” a fast paced crowd cheering song, he certainly left us wanting more.
While The Bouncing Souls certainly had their fans captivated during their set, the night was all about The Gaslight Anthem. Walking onto the stage to Van Halen’s “Jump,” they kicked right into “High Lonesome” a song off their album The ‘59 Sound, a fan favorite. Having four full length albums and a 4 song EP to their name, the New Jersey-natives have a large catalog of songs to choose from. The set was heavy with songs off their most recent release Handwritten, which most of the crowd sitting in the upstairs seats and back by the main bar seemed pleased with. However, the fans closest to the stage seemed to thrive off the older numbers.
Songs from Handwritten are guitar heavy rock songs, which translate well in a live setting. During “Biloxi Parish,” the venue seemed to slow down as the guitar riffs washed over the crowd. Having previously written about Handwritten, it is no secret that I am not only a fan of the album, but of the band, I have to say that adding this album to their live show definitely changes the overall feel. While their sound shows maturity and intentional separation from previous albums I’m on the fence if its for the better.
After playing a solid set lead singer Brian Fallon informed the crowd that normally they would go off the stage to then come out a second later and play an encore, instead they were just staying on the stage and continuing with the last couple songs. I couldn’t help but smile at this act which reminded me of this band’s ability to make their own rules when they play music.
Starting off the encore with Here Comes Your Man they had a couple hiccups while trying to start it off, but finally pulled through and finished the song on a high note. Not to leave the older fans disappointed they made a great choice and ended the night with “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts” and “The Backseat.”
Photos (c) Daniela Montelongo
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