The Gaslight Anthem deliver memorable night

A review of The Gaslight Anthem at the Middle East Downstairs on July 22, 2012

, Editor-in-Chief

Just two days before the release of their brand new album, The Gaslight Anthem hit Cambridge on Sunday night for an intimate performance at the sold out Middle East Downstairs. Undoubtedly, the band’s next show will be in a more expansive venue but they’ll have trouble matching then unwavering energy that ran through the dingy and extremely hot basement rock club in Central Square.

The New Jersey-based rockers are using the club tour as way to gear up promotion for the release of their fourth studio album and first with a major label (Mercury), Handwritten (in stores this past Tuesday). However, the band used their 90-minute set to showcase material from throughout their growing catalogue and more so, to have fun with their devoted fanbase. Both sides clearly fed off each other for a show that never seemed to waver, even if both were drenched in sweat.

The Gaslight Anthem kicked things off with “Great Expectations” before delivering Handwritten‘s lead single, “45”. It was the first of just four songs the band would preview from the new disc as the band preferred to deliver material the crowd was more familiar with, notably the band’s 2008 breakthrough album The ’59 Sound. Still, the new songs – “Howl”, “Mulholland Drive” and “Here Comes My Man” – were well recieved and fit in just fine with the older material.

The band reached back to their 2007 debut Sink or Swim with “I’da Called You Woody, Joe” and “Angry Johnny and the Radio”, with frontman Brian Fallon tagging a bit of the Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash Into Me” to the closing of the latter. Fallon and his bandmates were clearly happy to be on stage and beamed with smiles as the adoring crowd seemingly turned every song into a sing-along. At one point, Fallon recalled the band’s admiration for the city and their last appearance at the Middle East, opening for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

“The Backseat” brought the main set to a rocking close. Following a very short break, The Gaslight Anthem returned for what would be a six-song encore, beginning with the slow building “The Navesink Banks and continuing with a stellar cover of Bob Dylan’s “Changing of the Guards”. “American Slang” flowed into a rousing rendition of “We Came to Dance”. After thanking the crowd sincerely and promising a return to Boston this fall, the band ended the night with breakthrough hit “The ’59 Sound”.

Setlist

1.  Great Expectations
2.  45
3.  Old White Lincoln
4.  Howl
5.  Casanova, Baby!
6.  I’da Called You Woody, Joe
7.  Angry Johnny and the Radio (with “Crash Into Me” snippet)
8.  Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts
9. Mulholland Drive
10. Film Noir
11. The Diamond Church Street Choir
12. The Patient Ferris Wheel
13. Here Comes My Man
14. The Queen of Lower Chelsea
15. Here’s Looking at You, Kid
16. The Backseat
    Encore
17. The Navesink Banks
18. Changing of the Guards (Bob Dylan cover)
19. We’re Getting a Divorce, You Keep the Diner
20. American Slang
21. We Came to Dance
22. The ’59 Sound

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