Great Expectations Proved Right

With one shirt sleeve bearing their every emotion boldly for all whilst the other simultaneously reveals their influences with unapologetic pride, New Jersey’s The Gaslight Anthem are a band that you can’t help but take to your heart.

Fast and furious from the instant they hit the stage, TGA’s contagious enthusiasm grabs all as Brian Fallon and co launch into an energetically captivating burst of ‘Great Expectations’ before pummelling into ‘High Lonesome’ which even manages to acquire some extra guitars thanks to Polar Bear Club, then ‘Old White Lincoln’ steams in with extra live bite. With every face brandishing a smile that almost matches the glee that’s evident on Fallon’s face, TGA continue to whip the crowd along on a frenzied ride that takes in stories of a misspent youth, mingled with heartbreak at the hands of girls often named Maria, as the New Jersey quartet’s punk roots merge seamlessly with their soulful melodies and blues tinged tales. Close your eyes and suddenly you could be in New Jersey, so enthusiastic are the crowd for TGA that this could be a home show as every line finds a throaty roar of crowd participation, every beat is met with a rush of excited hands in the air as bodies sway to the infectious rush of ‘The Patient Ferris Wheel’ before energy levels threaten to bring the walls crushing down as ‘The ’59 Sound’ pounds with melodic majesty.

Flashing a cheeky grin, Fallon’s humble sincerity radiates from each line he delivers, sending ripples of exhilaration through the heaving crowd as his soulfully rich voice passionately delivers ‘Miles Davis And The Cool’ to riotous appreciation, whilst the subtle sorrow of ‘Blue Jeans And White T-Shirts’ intimately mesmerises all. Keen to let the music do the talking, Fallon talks little to the crowd, preferring instead to offer snippits of information with a carefree warmness akin to chatting to a pal in the pub as his continued grin gives way to reveal advice supposedly gained from James Brown. What follows is an unaccompanied rendition of ‘It’s a Man’s World’ that captures his raw soulfulness in all its finery, matched only by the heartfelt power house of ‘Even Cowgirls Get The Blues’ that bristles thanks to Alex Rosamillia’s seething guitar chords that all but weep with emotion.

Having taken the Nottingham faithful on a journey into the working class life of New Jersey, packed with quintessential Americana that has everyone verging on singing wholeheartedly the Star Spangled Banner, TGA refuse to leave without performing an unforgettable encore. With Frank Turner returning to the stage, it is his lone guitar and Fallon that bring the night to a fitting end as their cover of Bill Bragg’s ‘New England’ encapsulates the punk roots of both acts with spine tingling effect.

With the music press falling over themselves for the latest band out of New Jersey and with festival dates piling up alongside appearances with Bruce Springsteen, tonight TGA proved that sometimes great expectations can live up to all the hype.