The band have sewn themselves into the fabric of the state’s rich rock music heritage
The Gaslight Anthem came home last night.
Before a packed PNC Bank Arts Center, the band played the final show of their comeback tour in their native New Jersey. Alongside the likes of Misfits, Bon Jovi, My Chemical Romance, Overkill, and Bruce Springsteen, The Gaslight Anthem have sewn themselves into the fabric of Jersey’s rich rock ‘n’ roll heritage. It’s been a long seven years without them. Thankfully, they’ve come back just when we needed them the most.
Long Island’s Jeff Rosenstock kicked off the evening’s festivities with a raucous set. He churned through a solid 12-song set. The album that got the most attention was his 2020 LP No Dream. He wrapped things up with “You, In Weird Cities” and jumped into the crowd with his saxophone. Rosenstock’s high-energy performance certainly set the tone for the rest of the night.
The atmosphere of the evening was absolutely perfect. Summer had faded into fall. Fans had fire pits at their tailgates. As you made your way through the parking lot, the smell of a fire floating through the crisp autumn air was a lovely sensation not often felt at this venue. The energy was palpable. It was the last show of the season at the outdoor amphitheater, and what better way to close things out that with Gaslight’s first show back in a very long while.
When The Gaslight Anthem finally strolled onto the stage, the crowd erupted. Hearing the opening notes of “Have Mercy” felt like hugging a dear friend that you haven’t seen in a really long time. One hell of a time was about to be had.
The group proceeded to pull material from all five studio albums in their catalog. A bulk of the show saw hits from 2012’s Handwritten and their watershed outing The ’59 Sound. While there may have been a fan favorite or two missing (like “Here’s Looking at You, Kid,” “Keepsake,” and “The Diamond Church Street Choir,” to name a few), there was plenty to digest from the 21-song set for die-hards and casual fans alike.
They let upbeat rockers “The Spirit of Jazz,” “Howl,” and “The Patient Ferris Wheel” all rip right in a row. The segment had fans dancing in the aisles. Other tracks like “Mae, “We Came to Dance,” and “The Backseat” reached into the deepest corners of your heart and pulled out ever last bit of nostalgia hiding inside.
Frontman Brian Fallon also took time throughout the set to talk to the audience.
“This is the greatest state in the whole United States,” he declared.
“New Jersey versus everybody,” he stated later on.
He also gave the fans in attendance some solid life advice.
“If us five idiots – now six idiots – can be up here doing this, you guys can do anything. The next time you have an idea and you think, ‘Eh, I don’t know,’ try it! Me and this guy (bassist Alex Levine) used to work at a deli with a guy who sold drugs out the back, now look at us!”
It wasn’t all fun, uplifting stuff, however. At one point, Fallon was seriously flirting with disaster when he brought up Jersey’s biggest point of contention. The comment almost sent the entire night into a violent tailspin.
“It it Pork Roll or is it Taylor Ham?”
Calm the fuck down, Fallon.
Towards the tail end of the set, “Stay Vicious” sounded remarkably heavy in a live setting. Then, the boys from New Brunswick brought it home with three final songs that are among their most popular – starting with “Great Expectations,” and “45.” They concluded the set with their seminal hit “The ’59 Sound.” It’s the crown jewel of their catalog; one of the great rock songs of a generation.
There really isn’t a better way to wrap up a Gaslight set. There was no encore. They just kept playing, and the crowd kept singing along.
A lot has happened over the last seven years since The Gaslight Anthem have been gone. Rock music has lost immeasurable torchbearers like Chester Bennington (Linking Park), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), and Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) far too soon. Their passings are a painful reminder that forever is often a myth. It’s so important – now more than ever – that bands like The Gaslight Anthem are back on stage keeping those torches burning bright.
Before their return, The Gaslight Anthem’s last official show before an indefinite hiatus was August 30, 2015 at Reading Festival in England. The band would, however, reunite briefly in 2018 for a string of shows celebrating the 10th anniversary of their seminal album The ’59 Sound. The run ended with three shows at the Stone Pony’s Summer Stage in their home state of New Jersey, once again in August.
Coinciding with their 2022 comeback tour, the band has also promised fans a brand new studio album. Their last effort was 2014’s Get Hurt. Released via Island Records, the album peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200. It also topped the Billboard Alternative Albums Chart and hit No. 2 on the Rock Albums Chart.