By Erin Coulehan, Contributor, DC Music Live
The Gaslight Anthem reminded the 9:30 Club what Rock ‘n’ Roll is all about during two sold out shows on December 2nd and 3rd. The band hailing from New Jersey is on the last leg of its U.S. tour after touring through Europe earlier this year.
Between writing music, making records and traveling the world, The Gaslight Anthem has also gained literary presence this year while encouraging bands aspiring to their level of success.
“Live it to the fullest and enjoy every minute of it,” writes Brian Fallon, frontman of The Gaslight Anthem in Chuck Ragan’s (Hot Water Music) book The Road Most Traveled, a compilation of anecdotes from musicians including folk/punk singer-songwriter Frank Turner and At the Drive -In’s Jim Ward, based on their experience and adventures on the road. “We’re writing the story, and we’re telling the tales. Make it count. Mean it always,” Fallon’s story continues.
Despite leading a peripatetic lifestyle, The Gaslight Anthem played like they meant it both nights at the 930 Club with hearts-on-fire guitar and nostalgic lyrics from songs off Handwritten, its fourth full-length album released this summer.
The crowd sang “Have you seen my hands/ Just look at the ‘em shake/ And the song just keeps on repeating / Drop the needle
again / And I dance with your ghost / Oh, but that ain’t the way / I can’t move on and I can’t stay the same,” with Fallon during “45,” the first track and single off Handwritten which describes the force required to combat the inertia of a relationship. The roundelay that goes hand in hand with romanticizing images of the past continues until you “turn the record over,” but then again, the flip side goes in circles as well.
Examining the past seems to be a trope The Gaslight Anthem isn’t quite yet finished exploring, much to the delight of the crowd at Monday’s show when The Beatles “Come Together” was sung in Fallon’s gravelly cry.
Nostalgic images of old radios, blue collar work and classic Americana stirred the audience who began a mosh pit in the middle of the crowd during songs like fan-favorite “The ‘59 Sound” off the eponymous album.
Fallon and his bandmates took on a new level of excitement when singing “oh sha-la-la, oh sha-la-la,” during “Here Comes My Man” as the crowd swayed to the sounds of the supercharged guitar and brooding lyrics.
The performances told stories of old juke boxes, ripped jeans and whiskey-stained kisses – vignettes of life on the road, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The Gaslight Anthem proved they still love Tom Petty-inspired songs and driving old (and new) fans crazy with a five-song encore culminating with “Great Expectations” before leaving the stage for good. If looking back is necessary for a band’s success as it continues along the road most traveled in pursuit of ensuring their story is included in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll, then maybe the past The Gaslight Anthem explores is only a prologue.