The day I had a cold (aka The Gaslight Anthem playing ‘The ’59 Sound’ tenth-anniversary tour @ Barrowlands Ballroom, Glasgow)

I embarked upon the 12.11 ScotRail service to Glasgow and located my table seat close to the toilet, where I unloaded all of my travel essentials from my backpack onto the  green surface of the table which resembled a regurgitated avocado:  an A5 lined notebook, a black pen, two bacon rolls, three sachets of Nottingham’s finest export, four cans of Budweiser, a small flask with a finger of Jack Daniels, a pocket packet of tissues and a silver film of Paracetamol.

Despite having recently added an intake of effervescent multivitamins to my morning routine and having also eaten a third of a punnet of blueberries, a banana and two easy peeler oranges which had taken no fewer than five attempts to peel, I had been hit with my first cold since December 2017, and it happened on the day The Gaslight Anthem were performing the tenth anniversary tour of their ‘59 Sound album at the Barrowlands.

I folded myself into my seat and watched Oban slide slowly into the distance when another sneeze erupted from my nostrils, which by that point had taken on the distinct shade of a wind-battered rose.  I cursed my immune system and wondered if this was the sort of thing Alanis Morissette was alluding to.  A heavy sigh and a cough left my mouth at roughly the same time and I reached for the Paracetamol and drowned two of the tablets in a mouthful of whisky, unsure if I was trying to numb the nuisance of the cold symptoms or of everyday life.

By the time the train had wheezed into the village of Dalmally, I had downed most of the first can of Budweiser and my nose was streaming more quickly than an addictive Netflix series.  The alcohol had soaked into my system and I was feeling extremely drowsy and miserable.  Steal My Sunshine by Len played from my Spotify playlist, and even though the elderly woman sitting opposite me had spent much of the journey complaining of a cataract in each eye which meant that she was barely able to read her copy of the Daily Express, even with a magnifying glass which was larger than my hand, she could probably see that I wasn’t capable of finding the energy to drum along on my thigh.

I managed to stay awake all the way to Glasgow Queen Street, and when I checked into my room on the fifth floor of the Travelodge the first thing I did was to take another dosage of Paracetamol using the small, flimsy plastic cup they provide guests with, presumably for such emergencies.  Soon I was forced to confront the dilemma which seems to vex me more than most other issues:  whether or not I should wear my denim jacket out to go to the gig.  It wasn’t feeling especially balmy outdoors considering it was the middle of July, and my failing immune system seemed capable of convincing even the most ardent horologist that it was November.  However, in the back of my mind was the memory of many hot and sweaty nights seeing The Gaslight Anthem, and I decided that I would be better off leaving the jacket behind.

I pushed all of the most valuable possessions in my life into each of the four pockets of my black jeans:  a mobile phone with its ability to play music, a pair of earphones to listen to the music, a wallet which was thick with silver coins and as many tissues as a person can reasonably carry.  The weight pushed my jeans – which were already sitting quite loosely – down past the waistband of my boxer shorts, and I worried that it might look to others as though I was making some vain attempt at a youthful statement of fashion, even though it was clear that I simply don’t have the buttocks for such a thing.

At The Raven, where I would enjoy a pint of Caesar Augustus, I was beaten to the bar by a short red-haired girl who proceeded to tell the barmaid in a softly whimsical tone that I should be served first.  This friendly act didn’t sit well with me, and when the barmaid floated across the floor to my side of the bar I insisted that the short red-haired girl had arrived before me and should be served instead.  The barmaid returned to where she had once been standing and thanked both of us for our honesty as she poured a schooner of ruby coloured ale for the diminutive redhead.  I made some stupid remark which drew laughter from both of the ladies, all the while my internal narrator was telling me that despite making a chivalrous gesture and doing the socially correct thing of ensuring that the person who was first in line was served their drink before me, I was actually a dick because the short red-haired girl had made the move first.

After drinking my ill-gotten pint of hybrid lager and IPA, I strolled down the Gallowgate to Saint Luke’s, which is a relatively new bar that has been restored from an old church, although people still go there seeking salvation and hiding from the problems of real-life with the assistance of a spirit.

I met with the girl with candyfloss pink hair and her friend who had the most bold and brilliant pink hair which looked almost like an explosion of raspberries.  I felt a little out of place with my boring and balding salt and pepper hair which was slicked over to the side, but we engaged in a round system anyway and I ordered a Tennents and a Jameson in an effort to give my cold a good kicking before the Gaslight Anthem show.

Most of the tables in the bar had been reserved by smart people who had planned ahead for the occasion, leaving the only seating available at tables which were so high that a compass was needed to reach the summit.  The Irish whiskey worked in drying out my nose and all of a sudden the pocketful of tissues that I was carrying had become redundant.  We ordered a round of Jägerbombs, having decided at six o’clock that eating any kind of food would be futile, and the shot glasses were placed carefully inside a glass with an exceptionally wide rim which made it almost impossible to down both the Jägermeister and the Red Bull without a good quantity of the drink spilling onto my shirt.

In Bar 67, a pub I had never visited despite being a frequent attendee at Celtic Park over the previous two years, the Jägerbombs were served in regular glasses which made it easier to drink the entire quantity of alcohol as well as energy drink.  My drowsiness was disappearing to an extent where I was once again beginning to feel human, if not dancer.  An older gentleman arrived carrying a small bundle of magazines which he quickly tried to convince us would be a good idea to buy.  His sales pitch involved an explanation of how the magazine he was selling raises money for the homeless and is a contemporary adult competitor of The Big Issue.  He continued, insisting that he had received complaints that some of the content of the magazine was misogynistic and anti-Semitic, but that he didn’t know what either of those terms meant.  I couldn’t decide whether he was pushing was some kind of elaborate scheme or if he was being genuine.

As we were entering the Barrowlands Ballroom, which is directly across the road from Bar 67 and was the venue of the first gig I ever attended in November of 2003, I could feel myself becoming anxious as it became clear that I was going to be subjected to a pat down.  I felt concerned that I would be forced to explain the excessive quantity of tissues in the front left pocket of my jeans and why a thirty-four-year-old man was wearing jeans below the waistband of his boxer shorts anyway.  The girl with the candyfloss pink hair handed me my ticket and I watched as the man in front of me was fondled around the pocket area without any issue and I knew that I would be next.  I strode forward towards the man in the high visibility jacket with a Jägermeister confidence which I hoped would mask the fear I had over the pocket which was bulging conspicuously with tissue paper.  The man’s hands danced over my body and I could only hope that he was finding the entire experience as awkward as I was.  He didn’t pass comment on the tissues and we were all free to enjoy the night ahead.

We ordered a round of doubles between the end of Dave Hause’s supporting set and the beginning of The Gaslight Anthem’s in the hope that they would last, but my Jack Daniels was finished by the time the lights went down at around 9.15pm.  There are not many feelings more euphoric than those few moments after the room goes dark and you know that your favourite band is about to come on stage.  The Gaslight Anthem began with a blistering version of Handwritten, and it wasn’t very long into the opening song of the set when my glasses were sent flying from my face somewhere into the blurry distance in front of me.

I could hardly see a thing and I was utterly panic-stricken.  I had no idea how I was going to find my glasses amongst the mass of people who were standing around six or seven rows deep in front of us.  How would I enjoy the rest of the gig when I couldn’t even see my own pink nose, let alone the band I had been waiting years to see again?  How would I find my way back to my hotel, or even be able to get a new pair of glasses in the morning?  It was the worst thing that could have happened to me.

I nudged the person who was standing next to me to alert them to the fact that I had lost my glasses, but I didn’t know what I was expecting a complete stranger shrouded in darkness to do about it.  Could she get the band to stop playing rock and roll songs and have the house lights turned up so that everyone could look around their feet for my stray spectacles?  I conceded that she couldn’t, and that even if I could see the stewards they would likely be too far away for me to attract their attention, so I squatted onto the sticky floor of the Barrowlands and desperately fished my hand through rivers of beer and amongst a dark forest of legs and crushed plastic cups.  Somehow, miraculously, I was able to put my fingers on the extended leg of my glasses and I retrieved them, unscathed, from the floor. It might have been the best feeling I have ever felt.

The ‘59 Sound is a joyous portrait of youthful exuberance, of heartache, of wild summer adventure and of hope and glory and love and everything else, and this gig was too.  I found myself frequently locking arms with bouncing sweaty strangers, my own blue and black flannel shirt clinging to my hot body like foil around a jacket potato, and my black jeans melted to my flesh. My hair was drenched – utterly soaked – with sweat, as though I had just walked out of the shower and decided not to use a towel because the wet look is in vogue.  It was a cathartic release and I sang myself hoarse.

Nice n’ Sleazy’s seemed like a very long way from the Barrowlands when the gig finished at sometime around eleven o’clock, but it is one of my favourite bars in the city and they had been promising the best offering of music after the Gaslight Anthem performance.  I weaved my way through the maze of the city centre, with all of the demolition work which had been going on around Sauchiehall Street meaning that much of it was closed off and alternative routes had to be taken.  I had my music for company and after some time I managed to find what I was looking for.  I stepped casually towards the doorway, where I was confronted by two large bouncers who had the appearance of men who had never known amusement.

“Are you alright?”  The least amused of the two men asked, and I was baffled by this sudden interest in my wellbeing from a total stranger.  I assured him that I was well, having forgotten all about the rogue cold which had befallen me earlier in the day.

“Where have you been tonight?”  He continued, his tone taking on an increasingly interrogatory nature.

“Just the Gaslight Anthem gig at the Barras,” I said excitedly, wondering if he was going to engage me in conversation about the finer points of punk rock.  Instead, he viewed me with suspicion, his demeanour becoming no more amused.

“Go easy in there tonight, pal,” he eventually relented as he opened the door and invited me to step inside the bar.

I ordered a Jack Daniels and coke and stood at the dim end of a quieter than expected bar, and it suddenly struck me that with all the Paracetamol I had taken earlier in the day and all of the beer and whisky and Jägermeister I had drunk over the course of the night and with my sweat-soaked head and disgusting shirt that maybe the bouncer had seen me as a figure of distress.  As I pondered this a young woman arrived next to me and she was holding a smartphone which was open on the Google Maps app.  She leaned across a pile of free magazines which were sitting on the bar between us and asked me if I knew how to find Mango.  I had never heard of the bar but could see from the flashing icons on her map that it was close to Nice n’ Sleazy’s.  I explained to her that with the various works going on around Sauchiehall Street it might be more difficult than normal to find Mango, at which point it occurred to me that I could make a really great pun about the difficulty of finding a good mango.  The words had barely left my mouth when the dislocated stranger left and rejoined her friend at their table.

I had one more Jack Daniels and coke before retiring to my bedroom on the fifth floor of the Travelodge hotel.  I undressed and sunk into the cotton sheets but was still so exceptionally warm that I soon kicked them away.  I woke up in the morning, dazed and hung over, and sneezed.  Not once or twice, but three or four times. I reached over to the bedside table for my glasses and affixed them to my face and nothing else really seemed to matter.

This post was first published on 25 July 2018. The original can be viewed by clicking here.

Posts which are similar to this:
The night I ate dinner (aka Ryan Adams @ Usher Hall, Edinburgh)
The day I took a flask of coffee on the train (aka The Low Anthem @ Stereo, Glasgow)
The week I wore a t-shirt and got a haircut (aka James @ Corran Halls, Oban)

The day I had a cold (aka The Gaslight Anthem playing ‘The ’59 Sound’ tenth anniversary tour @ Barrowlands Ballroom, Glasgow)

I embarked upon the 12.11 ScotRail service to Glasgow and located my table seat close to the toilet, where I unloaded all of my travel essentials from my backpack onto the sickly green surface of the table:  an A5 lined notebook, a black pen, two bacon rolls, three sachets of Nottingham’s finest export, four cans of Budweiser, a small flask with a finger of Jack Daniels, a pocket packet of tissues and a silver film of Paracetamol.

Despite recently adding an intake of effervescent multivitamins to my morning routine and having also eaten a third of a punnet of blueberries, a banana and two easy peeler oranges which take no fewer than five attempts to peel, I had been hit with my first cold since December 2017 and it happened on the day The Gaslight Anthem were performing the tenth anniversary tour of the ‘59 Sound album at the Barrowlands.

I folded myself into my seat and watched Oban slide slowly into the distance when another sneeze erupted from my nostrils, which by now had taken on the distinct shade of a wind-battered carnation.  I cursed my immune system and wondered if this was the sort of thing Alanis Morissette was alluding to. A heavy sigh and a cough left my mouth at roughly the same time and I reached for the Paracetamol and drowned two of the tablets in a mouthful of whisky, unsure if I was trying to numb the nuisance of the cold symptoms or of everyday life.

By the time the train had wheezed into the village of Dalmally I had downed most of the first can of Budweiser and my nose was streaming more quickly than an addictive Netflix series.  The alcohol had soaked into my system and I was feeling extremely drowsy and miserable. Steal My Sunshine by Len played from my Spotify playlist, and even though the elderly woman sitting opposite me had been complaining of a cataract in each eye and could barely read her copy of the Daily Express even with a magnifying glass which was larger than my hand, she could probably see that I could barely muster the energy to drum along on my thigh.

I managed to stay awake all the way to Glasgow Queen Street, and when I checked into my room on the fifth floor of the Travelodge and took another dosage of Paracetamol using the small, flimsy plastic cup they provide guests with, presumably for such emergencies, I was forced to confront the dilemma which seems to vex me more than most other issues:  whether or not I should wear my denim jacket out to go to the gig. I balanced the fact that it wasn’t especially balmy outdoors with my failing immune system against the memory of many hot and sweaty nights seeing The Gaslight Anthem and I decided that I would be better off leaving the jacket behind.

I pushed all of the most valuable possessions in my life into each of the four pockets of my black jeans:  a mobile phone with its ability to play music, a pair of earphones, a wallet thick with silver coins and as many tissues as a person can reasonably carry.  The weight pushed my jeans – which were sitting quite loosely anyway – down past the waistband of my boxer shorts, and I considered that it might look to others as though I was making some vain attempt at a youthful statement of fashion, but I simply don’t have the buttocks for such a thing.

At The Raven, where I would enjoy a pint of Caesar Augustus, I was beaten to the bar by a short red-haired girl who proceeded to tell the barmaid that I should be served first.  The barmaid floated across the floor to my side of the bar and I insisted that the short red-haired girl had arrived before me and should be served instead. The barmaid returned to where she had once been standing and thanked both of us for our honesty as she poured a schooner of ale for the diminutive redhead.  I made some stupid remark which drew laughter from both of the ladies, but my internal narrator was telling me that despite making a chivalrous gesture and doing the socially correct thing of ensuring that the person who was first in line was served their drink before me, I was actually a dick because the short red-haired girl had made the move first.

After drinking my ill-gotten pint of hybrid lager and IPA I strolled down the Gallowgate to Saint Luke’s, which is a relatively new bar that has been restored from an old church, although people still go there seeking salvation and hiding from the problems of real-life with the assistance of a spirit.

I met with the girl with candyfloss pink hair and her friend who had the most bold and brilliant pink hair which looked almost like an explosion of raspberries.  I felt a little out of place with my boring and balding salt and pepper hair which is slicked over to the side, but we engaged in a round system anyway and I ordered a Tennents and a Jameson in an effort to give my cold a good kicking before the Gaslight Anthem show.

Most of the tables in the bar had been reserved by smart people who had planned ahead for the occasion, leaving the only seating available at tables which were so high that a compass was needed to reach the summit.  The Irish whiskey worked in drying out my nose and all of a sudden the pocketful of tissues that I was carrying had become redundant. We ordered a round of Jägerbombs, having decided at six o’clock that eating any kind of food would be futile, and the shot glasses were placed carefully inside a glass with an exceptionally wide rim which made it almost impossible to down both the Jägermeister and the Red Bull without a good quantity of the drink spilling onto my shirt.

In Bar 67, a pub I had never visited despite being a frequent attendee at Celtic Park over the past two years, the Jägerbombs were served in regular glasses which made it easier to drink the entire quantity of alcohol as well as energy drink, and my drowsiness was disappearing and I was once again beginning to feel human, if not dancer.  An older gentleman arrived and tried to convince us that it would be a good idea to buy a magazine he was selling which raises money for the homeless and is a contemporary adult competitor of The Big Issue. He insisted that he had received complaints that some of the content of the magazine was misogynistic and anti-Semitic but that he didn’t know what either of those terms meant, and I couldn’t decide whether this was some kind of a scheme or if he was being genuine.

As we were entering the Barrowlands Ballroom, which is directly across the road from Bar 67 and was the venue of the first gig I ever attended in November of 2003, I could feel myself becoming anxious as it became clear that I was going to be subjected to a pat down and I felt concerned that I would be forced to explain the excessive quantity of tissues in the front left pocket of my jeans and why a thirty-four-year-old man was wearing jeans below the waistband of his boxer shorts anyway.  The girl with the candyfloss pink hair handed me my ticket and I watched as the man in front of me was patted down without any issue and I knew that I would be next. I strode forward towards the man in the high visibility jacket with a drunk confidence which I hoped would mask the fear I had over the pocket which was bulging with tissue paper.  The man’s hands danced over my body and I could only hope that he was finding the entire experience as awkward as I was. He didn’t pass comment on the tissues and we were all free to enjoy the night ahead.

We ordered a round of doubles between the end of Dave Hause’s set and the beginning of The Gaslight Anthem’s in the hope that they would last, but my Jack Daniels was finished by the time the lights went down at around 9.15pm.  There are few feelings more euphoric than those few moments after the room goes dark and you know that your favourite band are about to come on stage. The Gaslight Anthem began with a blistering version of Handwritten and it wasn’t very long into the opening song of the set when my glasses were sent flying from my face somewhere into the blurry distance in front of me.

I could hardly see a thing and I was utterly panic-stricken.  I had no idea how I was going to find my glasses amongst the mass of people who were standing around six or seven rows deep in front of us.  How would I enjoy the rest of the gig when I can’t even see my own nose, let alone the band I have waited years to see again? How would I find my way back to my hotel or even be able to get a new pair of glasses in the morning?  It was the worst thing that could have happened to me.

I nudged the person who was standing next to me to alert them to the fact that I had lost my glasses, but I didn’t know what I was expecting her to do about it.  Could she get the band to stop playing rock and roll songs and have the house lights turned up so that everyone could look around their feet for my stray spectacles?  Obviously not, and so I squatted onto the sticky floor of the Barrowlands and desperately fished my hand through rivers of beer and amongst a dark forest of legs and crushed plastic cups.  Somehow, miraculously, I was able to put my fingers on the extended leg of my glasses and I retrieved them, unscathed, from the floor. It might have been the best feeling I have ever felt.

The ‘59 Sound is a joyous portrait of youthful exuberance, of heartache, of wild summer adventure and of hope and glory and love and everything else, and this gig was too.  I found myself frequently locking arms with bouncing sweaty strangers, my own blue and black flannel shirt clinging to my hot body and my black jeans melted to my flesh. My hair was drenched – utterly soaked – with sweat, as though I had just walked out of the shower and decided not to use a towel because the wet look is in vogue.  It was a cathartic release and I sang myself hoarse.

Nice n’ Sleazy’s seemed like a very long way from the Barrowlands when the gig finished at sometime around eleven o’clock, but it is one of my favourite bars in the city and they had been promising the best offering of music after the Gaslight Anthem performance.  I weaved my way through the maze of the city centre with all of the demolition work going on around Sauchiehall Street meaning that much of it is closed off and alternative routes need to be taken. I had my music for company and after some time I managed to find what I was looking for.  I stepped casually towards the doorway where I was confronted by two large bouncers who had the appearance of men who had never known amusement.

“Are you alright?”  The least amused of the two men asked, and I was baffled by this sudden interest in my wellbeing from a total stranger.  I assured him that I was well, having forgotten all about the rogue cold which had befallen me earlier in the day.

“Where have you been tonight?”  He continued, his tone taking on an increasingly interrogatory nature.

“Just the Gaslight Anthem gig at the Barras,” I said excitedly, wondering if he was going to engage me in conversation about the finer points of punk rock.  Instead he viewed me with suspicion, his demeanour becoming no more amused.

“Go easy in there tonight, pal,” he eventually relented as he opened the door and invited me to step inside the bar.

I ordered a Jack Daniels and coke and stood at the dim end of a quieter than expected bar and it suddenly struck me that with all the Paracetamol I had taken earlier in the day and all of the beer and whisky and Jägermeister I had drunk over the course of the night and with my sweat soaked head and disgusting shirt that maybe the bouncer had seen me as a figure of distress.  As I pondered this a young woman arrived next to me and she was holding a smartphone which was open on the Google Maps app. She leaned across a pile of free magazines which were sitting on the bar between us and asked me if I knew how to find Mango. I had never heard of the bar but could see from the icons on her map that it is close to Nice n’ Sleazy’s. I explained to her that with the various works going on around Sauchiehall Street it might be more difficult than normal to find Mango, at which point it occurred to me that I could make a really great pun about the difficulty of finding a good mango, but as soon as the words left my mouth she left and rejoined her friend at their table.

I had one more Jack Daniels and coke before retiring to my bedroom on the fifth floor of the Travelodge hotel.  I undressed and sunk into the cotton sheets but was still so exceptionally warm that I soon kicked them away. I woke up in the morning, dazed and hung over, and sneezed.  Not once or twice, but three or four times. I reached over to the bedside table for my glasses and affixed them to my face and nothing else really seemed to matter.

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
Handwritten
The Patient Ferris Wheel
1,000 Years
Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
Helter Skeleton
“45”
Underneath The Ground
Film Noir
Mulholland Drive
Selected Poems
Biloxi Parish
Great Expectations
Old Haunts
Keepsake
Get Hurt
American Slang
Wooderson
We Came To Dance
The Backseat

The Gaslight Anthem @ O2 Academy, Glasgow

There’s a line in Even Cowgirls Get The Blues which says, “tell your pappa you’ll be home when the good feeling dies,” and if that was the case here The Gaslight Anthem would still be playing now, for they create a feelgood, positive energy at their shows like no other.

Pooling from a setist which spanned their four record career to date the band treated the raucous Glasgow audience to a night which went by faster than an Alex Rosamilia chord.  Whether it’s the influence of alcohol, a greater fanaticism for the band or a generally better ability to enjoy themselves – or a bit of each – there’s nothing quite like a Glasgow crowd on a night like this.  The band evidently fed off the energy coming from the stalls and it produced emphatic results.

Brian Fallon was in a playful mood with a rant against Justin Bieber; demonstrating his love of the way Scottish people pronounce the letter ‘o’ – as in “Little Monsters” becoming “Little Moonsters” – and offering some film critique:  The Notebook good but sad; I Spit On Your Grave nasty.  But it’s with their music that he and his band excel and this was another fine performance of room-shaking, sweat-inducing rock.

Sink or Swim had a greater presence here than in Manchester, with the addition of Boomboxes and Dictionaries and particularly Drive adding to the ferocity of the set, which already packed a powerful punch with the intensity of the likes of Biloxi Parish, Great Expectations and The ’59 Sound.

But The Gaslight Anthem can mix it up and show a softer side too.  Here’s Looking At You, Kid is performed under an almost hushed reverence and the likes of opener Mae and She Loves You display the wide range of talent in the band.

What is perhaps most impressive about this model of The Gaslight Anthem is the way that certain lyrics seem to act as dramatic signposts throughout the set.  The part during The ’59 Sound before the line “ain’t supposed to die on a Saturday night” rouses the audience even more, while the word “defeat” in Handwritten provokes a reaction.  The closing line of Here’s Looking At You, Kid, the mid-section of Angry Johnny And The Radio and the abforementioned line from Even Cowgirls Get The Blues all act as moments of drama.

The Gaslight Anthem have everything going for them.  A charismatic frontman, a group who have been together and recorded together long enough to fine-tune an excellent stage performance, a back catalogue of great songs into which the recently released Handwritten fits comfortably and a loyal and enthusiastic fanbase.  With live shows of this quality complimenting the high standard of their released, there is no limit to what these boys from New Jersey can achieve.

The Gaslight Anthem @ O2 Apollo, Manchester

The Manchester Apollo originally served as a cinema following its construction in 1938 before the demands of the 1970’s called on it to focus its resources on the increasing desire for variety shows and music concerts.  The new millennium has seen the venue rebranded under the O2 name, like many iconic venues of the era.

The Gaslight Anthem have drawn their influences from the silver screen greats of the 30’s and 40’s, referencing Judy Garland and the Wizard of Oz in several songs, as well as the music of 70’s and 80’s rock stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Jon Bon Jovi.  Their recent album Handwritten was the first to be released under their deal with record label conglomerate Mercury.

With that historical backdrop it was fitting that The Gaslight Anthem should play the O2 Apollo Manchester, with its red walls and flooring still distinctive of the days as a variety hall.  The band’s performance on the stage too echoed memories of a distant era as they produce an all-out rock show the likes of which are hard to find in 2012.

That new Mercury released record Handwritten formed the core of the show, with at least eight of the nights twenty-two songs coming from it.  Mae was a gentle opener into a gig which would become much louder, recent singles Here Comes My Man and Handwritten pleased any newcomers to the band while Biloxi Parish and Mulholland Drive were raw and edgy, the latter packing a particular punch.

Handwritten may be the band’s best selling album, but The ‘59 Sound still provides the best live material.  Great Expectations brought the main set to a racing, raging climax while The Backseat proved a popular number to end the encore.

This is a band that wears its influences on its sleeves. Tom Petty is at the centre of young romance in Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, which also namechecks many Springsteen characters, and Dylan’s Changing Of The Guards was given a makeover in the encore.  The influence and importance of the radio, which is present in so many Gaslight songs, was highlighted by Brian Fallon before ’45’ as he thanked Radio 1, XFM and the audience for ensuring that it was the band’s first song to receive prolonged airplay.  It’s clearly something he’s proud of, and you can feel it in the gusto of his performance.

Charismatic frontman Brian Fallon claimed in the encore that he sometimes doesn’t know how to handle the recognition which is now being given to the band, but their confident performance belies that humbleness.  His statement here was one of few pauses for conversation; this is a relentless rock show where three, sometimes four, songs follow one after the other like a torrent of punches.

The Gaslight Anthem strive to offer something different, promising not to fall into the trap of other established acts who play “the same old shit every night”.  Times have changed and while the world is now a place where O2 and Mercury are king, The Gaslight Anthem are also throwback to the sweat and beer soaked variety hall of the 1970’s.

The Gaslight Anthem @ KOKO, London

“A lot of people started listening to us after we played with Bruce Springsteen, but you guys have been with us since the beginning.  This one is for you,” said Brian Fallon as his band of bruised jukebox Romeos launched into a triumphant set-closing cover of The Who’s landmark Baba O’Riley, a fitting end to a night that was a celebration of the spirit of classic rock and the ferris wheel of young romance.

From the moment The Gaslight Anthem arrived on stage to a fanfare which surely threatened the very foundations of Camden’s KOKO the band ran head-first into a blistering set with Great Expectations, We Came To Dance and Casanova, Baby!  The pace was relentless, with the band offering a huge sound which produced little opportunity to catch a breather.

Fans had paid upward of £60 to scalpers for gold dust tickets in the 1500 capacity venue which had sold out barely minutes after going on sale, and both band and audience were going all-out to ensure that value for money was met.  Every song was a sing-along affair with not one of the twenty-five songs on the set list feeling like filler.  Even new singe 45 – not yet released in the UK – was recited by heart.

With their fourth studio album, Handwritten, set to be released next month, Monday’s gig in London was an opportunity for Gaslight Anthem to showcase the records which brought them to sharing a stage with Bruce Springsteen at Glastonbury.

Sink or Swim and The ‘59 Sound featured heavily in the early stages of the set, with songs such as I’da Called You Woody, Joe, Angry Johnny And The Radio, Old Lincoln and Even Cowgirls Get The Blues drawing slightly heartier participation than the other eagerly-met songs.  A cover of the Animals classic House of the Rising Sun bookmarked a venture into the more recent release, American Slang, where the title track and She Loves You were enthusiastically sang along with.

Brian Fallon didn’t need to talk between every song to have the crowd in the palm of his hand; he communicates through the passion of his songs, the infectious smile he flashes every so often and the regular use of hand gestures.  He struck-up a “we’re in this together” kind of bond with the audience throughout, never more so than when, unshackled by the addition of Ian Perkins on guitar, he disappeared off-stage between songs midway through the set, only to be spotted high up on the balcony above his raucous rock disciples.  He threw himself backwards from the architecture, landing safely into a sea of welcoming arms, crowd surfing his way back to the stage.

It was a significant moment in a night which emphasised a common energy between the performer and the audience which is rarely found in today’s music scene.  The Gaslight Anthem’s sound is huge, their performance is polished and at times it sounds like – dare I say it – they could be an arena rock band.

For much of their career The Gaslight Anthem have lived in the considerable shadow of their Jersey Godfathers, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.  On the evidence offered on Monday night they are finally ready to emerge from that shadow and stand alone as the natural successors to The Boss’s crown.