Its just over 2 years ago in this same venue that I last saw The Gaslight Anthem, since then they have released their fourth album ‘Handwritten’ to critical acclaim and you can almost taste the anticipation in the air at tonight’s sold out show. The first support act of the evening is the solo punk stylings of Mr Dave Hause. Now I’ve heard his name around but I never got round to actually to listening to any of his stuff. With a solitary candle flickering on the stage Dave Hause took to the stage and preceded to win over myself and the rest of the Birmingham crowd with his songs. He has a hell of a lot of stage presence for just one guy, filling the room with his powerful voice. He may have addressed Scotland as England at the previous show but he did no wrong tonight especially with a subtle shout out to Tommy Gable aka Laura Grace in his new song ‘Autism Vaccine Blues’ which he changed the title to ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’ a nice nod of support for Gable who is currently undergoing a gender change.
Blood Red Shoes are up next and the Brighton duo are not exactly who you would expect to support The Gaslight Anthem but its all about broadening my musical horizons right? I have to be honest and say these guys weren’t my cup of tea and the poor sound didn’t help their case much when all I could hear was the drums. Guitarist and vocalist Laura-Mary Carter really didn’t make much impact as a front-woman and you could barely make out her vocals. Maybe it was just me though as they got a fairly decent crowd response.
Tonight though, its all about The Gaslight Anthem, they’re the reason why this room is heaving, they take to the stage to deafening applause and over the course of their set they turn the Academy into a sweat box. Kicking things off with ‘Mae’ a fairly slow start to tonight’s show but as their banner drops when the last chords ring out they ramp up the pace with the huge crowd pleaser ‘The ’59 Sound’. The set encompasses all four albums and the new songs off ‘Handwritten’ like ’45′ encourage many a sing-along.
Brian Fallon seems in a bit of funny mood tonight, mumbling and rambling between songs barely heard as he flits between the microphone still seeming shocked and humbled that people like his band. ‘Angry Johnny and the Radio’ gets reworked to include part of Bon Iver’s ‘Blood Bank’ in the bridge which was subtle but brilliant. A guest appearance from Dave Hause for the huge hit ‘American Slang’ is great, on the other hand a cover of Nirvana’s ‘Silver’ may or may have not been a good move!
The crowd have been giving it their all this evening and they are rewarded with an extra long encore. ‘She Loves You’ is followed by ‘Here Comes My Man’ where the band is forced back on stage as the crowd continues singing the chorus much to the delight of Brian Fallon who stands there grinning from ear to ear. 2 more songs and the show is over and its been a pretty damn good one. The boys from Jersey have done very well for themselves over the last couple of years and I don’t see them losing pace any time soon.
Review by Hannah Sebestjanowicz
Photos by Ian Dunn