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

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls @ Corn Exchange, Edinburgh

This was Frank Turner’s largest Scottish show to date, and despite underlying back pain from a slipped disc suffered last year he displayed all of the qualities which brought him here, via the opening ceremony of the London Olympics and a successfull appearence on Celebrity Mastermind.

There are a few things one can expect at a Frank Turner gig:  several sing-alongs; smatterings of punk rock; boundless enthusiasm (both on and off stage) and camaraderie rank amongst them, and they were all there in abundance at the Corn Exchange last night.

From opening number Photosynthesis (the line “so I’ll play and you’ll sing” was never more fitting than last night) to the frenetic finish of Four Simple Words, this was a relentless charge through Frank’s burgeoning career – a career which seemingly appeals to all generations:  there were daughters here with fathers, while one elderly couple attempted to relive the experience of an earlier Dylan concert.

There was a fine balance between old and new in the set, with Turner himself noting that he’s careful not to alienate any one person or level of fan base.  This was a show for everybody, and so we got Plain Sailing Weather, The Way I Tend To Be, Losing Days and Recovery from the recent Tape Deck Heart – the latter forming the basis of Frank’s scientific experiment to find the loudest city on the UK tour – while older fans appreciated Father’s Day and To Take You Home, which was accompanied by a touching story about Frank’s doomed relationship with a French girl.

But it’s the sing-along element of a Frank Turner gig which really sets it apart from just about any live experience going.  Songs like Wessex Boy, If I Ever Stray and I Still Believe almost demand audience participation.  At that time, at that place, during those moments, everyone is equal.  And that was never more evident than in the first song of the encore when Frank strode onto stage with his acoustic guitar and announced that he wouldn’t be singing the next song – The Ballad of Me and My Friends – the audience would be.  And we did.  And it was triumphant.

Frank Turner live is an experience every fan of music should enjoy.