The Gaslight Anthem @ Birmingham Academy 22/06/10

Support: Sharks, Twin Atlantic

In just over three years since their debut ‘Sink Or Swim’, New Brunswick New Jersey’s The Gaslight Anthem have gone from a little known punk quartet, to a band on the very cusp of mainstream success. Back with their third full length ‘American Slang’, tonight sees the first of a run of UK shows, alongside a support slot with Pearl Jam at London’s Hyde Park calling.

Sharks are a fitting opener; their raw punk sound resonates with both Gaslight’s earlier sound, and that of their influences – most notably The Clash. However, once you get past these obvious nods, there is little depth, variety or new ideas on offer here. Average at best, they’ll have to do a lot better on record if they want to grab, and crucially, hold attention. Next up, Twin Atlantic faired much better, having steadily developed over the past 12 months. There’s an easy comparison to made with Biffy Clyro circa ‘ The Vertigo of Bliss’ era; loud, grandiose and staggering. The next big UK rock act? There’s certainly potential for years to come.

Stepping out to the Rolling Stones classic ‘Gimme Shelter’ The Gaslight Anthem emerged to a warm welcome. Opener ‘ American Slang’ is, as on record, a rousing and anthemic display of the band’s potential crossover to more mainstream pastures. Followed by the likes of ‘Old White Lincoln’ and ‘Spirit of Jazz’ the pace is upbeat, with the academy a frenzy of excitement. Mixing material from their latest effort; most notably ‘Stay Lucky’, ‘The Queen of Lower Chelsea’ and ‘Orphans’, as well as generous selection of songs from breakthrough ‘The ’59 Sound’ ensures there’s rarely a dull moment. However forthcoming single ‘The Diamond Church Street Choir’ is a shock absentee.

Whilst Gaslight have always been a confident band live; frontman Brian Fallon more than capable of handling a rowdy crowd – tonight’s heckles being the slightly eerie chant of ‘Briiiiiiiiiian, Briiiiiiiiiiiian’, the set sounds noticeably more polished, with extra attention given to their backing vocals than at previous shows; surely another sign of the bands inevitable shift to the mainstream. Ending with an encore of Pearl Jam’s ‘State of Love and Trust’, as well as ‘We Came To Dance’ and ‘Wooderson’ from their debut, it’s nice to see Gaslight haven’t forgotten their roots just yet. Enough to please both the long dedicated and the new, the only disappointment is knowing that it’s only a matter of time before they transcend the tiny bar gigs that fitted them so well for the more distant world of arena rock for good.

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