The Gaslight Anthem @ Corn Exchange, Edinburgh

The Gaslight Anthem received a lot of unwarranted criticism in the wake of their fifth studio release, Get Hurt, earlier this year and this show – part of the band’s biggest UK tour to date – felt a little like going back to basics.  And the results were resounding.

From early in the night Brian Fallon had told the audience that the Corn Exchange was “another venue with a curfew” and so the band wouldn’t “waste a song on an encore”, meaning that this gig was played at a breakneck speed from the first note.  The only notable pause coming when Fallon expressed astonishment at the number of birthday requests he’d been receiving on Twitter through the day from fans attending the gig;  “It can’t be all of y’all’s birthdays!”

This was a breathless, sweaty (very sweaty!) affair with a real electric energy, both on stage and on the floor.  Whilst I felt that some of the new material didn’t quite have so much impact – save maybe for Selected Poems, which was sandwiched midset between a thunderous Mulholland Drive and Biloxi Parish – some old favourites flourished in the intense environment.  Great Expectations was given a low tempo makeover, evoking memories of the Revival Tour; The Patient Ferris Wheel made a relatively rare and welcome airing and We Came To Dance seethed and soared with excitement.

It’s a rarity to find a gig with so many highs and virtually no lows or idle lulls, but The Gaslight Anthem at full throttle provided that last night.  From the hooks and choruses of The ‘59 Sound through the mega sing-along qualities of “45” to the ideal set-closer (not just here, but at any gig) The Backseat, this show had everything.  It was a perfect setlist for the night and a flawless performance from the band.

The Gaslight Anthem played:

Have Mercy
The ’59 Sound
The Patient Ferris Wheel
1,000 Years
Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
Helter Skeleton
Underneath The Ground
Film Noir
Mulholland Drive
Selected Poems
Biloxi Parish
Great Expectations
Old Haunts
Get Hurt
American Slang
We Came To Dance
The Backseat

Jack White @ SSE Hydro, Glasgow

The last time Jack White played in Scotland his set at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall was besieged with sound problems, rendering the whole experience a bit of a sham.  There was never any danger of history repeating itself in the custom built Hydro, with the arena’s acoustics providing the ideal setting for Jack White to strut his sonic stuff.

This was an ambitious gig:  the curtains straddled across the top tier suggest that the venue was perhaps a tad too big, but the sound was perfect.  An arena show in name only, with the big screens gone and only minimal blue lighting for effect, it was well-suited for the grand scale of White’s current album, Lazaretto.

The new songs flourished in the big venue:  Would You Fight For My Love? was sublime, Temporary Ground a standout and High Ball Stepper introduced an epic encore.

At 39, Jack White has amassed a catalogue of music that most artists will never produce in a lifetime, giving his setlists a nice air of unpredictability.  There was a perfect cocktail of solo, White Stripes and Raconteurs material, with a blazing Broken Boy Soldier leaving you pining for a reunion with Brendan Benson and a lack of Meg’s drumming allowing Hotel Yorba to blossom.  The only inevitability of the night was that Seven Nation Army would close – and it was an imperious performance which had the floor of the Hydro rocking and twats throwing beer all over the place.

With a band which were well-drilled and happy to ply their trade in the shadows, Jack White was on form here, well and truly dispelling any lingering disappointment from the Edinburgh episode.  There isn’t a better recording artist on the planet than Jack White at the moment, and on nights like last night there can’t be many better live performers, either.

Jack White played:

Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
Hypocritical Kiss
Hotel Yorba
Temporary Ground
Missing Pieces
Top Yourself
Broken Boy Soldier
I Fought Piranhas
Love Interruption
We’re Going To Be Friends
Sugar Never Tasted So Good
Would You Fight For My Love
I’m Slowly Turning Into You
[Encore] High Ball Stepper
Steady, As She Goes
Fell In Love With a Girl
Freedom at 21
That Black Bat Licorice
Seven Nation Army