The Gaslight Anthem are hardly a well kept secret any more. Without any previous coverage, they graced the front of Kerrang! and sold out their initial slot at the Bar Academy in Birmingham in weeks. However, thanks to an upgrade, I was able to get my hands on some tickets and braved the harsh winter weather to see if the hype was right.
First up on stage were Polar Bear Club, an up and coming band from the US. Polar Bear Club are like the bastard child of Boys Night Out and Stretch Arm Strong. No matter how confusing and potentially awful that sounds, it works insanely well. They’re certainly an energetic bunch and their singer threw himself around that stage like nobody’s business. Their debut album, Sometimes Things Just Disappear is actually really good as well, and the tracks sounded absolutely solid live. Definitely a band to watch out for.
The next act was Frank Turner, ex-guitarist of Million Dead now turned folk punk genius. I was not expecting an act like him at all that night, and neither was I disappointed. In short, Frank Turner is one of the most incredible acts I have ever witnessed and was honestly the best performer that night. He’s essentially a one man punk rock machine – an acoustic guitar and a microphone are all he needs. His lyrics are astounding too, and proof that you don’t need electric guitars and fancy videos to sing about politics these days. The highlight of his set was possibly Try This At Home, a song to be included on his new album. When Turner sings, you can feel the passion in his voice spreading throughout the audience and catching fire in their hearts. It’s truly inspiring stuff, and Frank Turner was the best thing about this evening.
That’s not to say that The Gaslight Anthem weren’t any good though. The band were truly on form tonight and it’s easy to see how they’re selling out venues left, right and centre. Unfortunately, I’d say that was a bad point, because the venue was so packed that it was impossible to get a good place. After trying in vain, I ended up stuck behind some dickhead who jumped around enthusiastically, played air guitar and elbowed me several times. And the pit was three steps to his left. This essentially ruined the set for me, but I’ll give the band their due, they were great. Brian Fallon is possibly the most charming man in punk rock, winning the audience over easily with a cheeky smile. The band are great performers and played a bunch of crowd favourites, all with incredibly abstract names that I can’t remember. At least I’m honest. It’s such a typical thing to say when it comes to punk bands, but there was so much energy coming from The Gaslight Anthem tonight, and it sounded incredible. Watch out for The Gaslight Anthem, because it won’t be long until their eclectic folk punk anthems are filling arenas worldwide.