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Closer to the Truth and Further From the Sky
Butch Walker Week: The Introduction
09/09/13 at 07:00 AM by narcoleptic953
Anyone who has interacted with me much on the forums knows that I have two “Personal Jesuses” as far as rock ‘n’ roll is concerned. The first is Bruce Springsteen, whose catalog Thomas already reviewed in full a few years ago. The second is Butch Walker, who is releasing a fantastic new EP called Peachtree Battle next Tuesday. In celebration of the new release, I’m going back through Butch’s catalog, through these albums have changed and shaped my life and my love for music over the past decade, and writing about each of them. Starting with the first release from Butch’s 1990s power pop band, the Marvelous 3, and cycling through his solo work, I will spend the next week building a retrospective of a guy who has morphed from hair metal guitarist to Elvis Costello imitator, ‘90s one-hit-wonder to star pop music producer, and rock ‘n’ roll frontman to folk and alt-country singer/songwriter, all in the space of some 25 years. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Butch Walker Week

01. Marvelous 3 - Math and Other Problems
02. Marvelous 3 - Hey! Album
03. Marvelous 3 - Readysexgo!
04. Butch Walker - Left of Self-Centered
05. Butch Walker - Letters
06. Butch Walker - The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let's-Go-Out-Tonites!
07. 1969 - Maya
08. Butch Walker - Sycamore Meadows
09. Butch Walker and the Black Widows - I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart
10. Butch Walker and the Black Widows - The Spade
11. Butch Walker - Peachtree Battle EP

Thanks to everyone who read and listened along with this project. It's been a riot, and I will definitely plan to do series like this in the future.

All the best,

Tags: butch walker, marvelous 3, 1969, the black widows
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Butch Walker 8/01/13 Show Review
08/02/13 at 11:58 AM by narcoleptic953
Butch Walker and Friends Live at the Murphy in Chicago (August 1, 2013)
A Beer Snob's Take on the Bud Light 50/50/1 Concert Series

As much as I grossly dislike Bud Light (and most of the people who think it’s a “good beer, bro!”), the concept behind the 50/50/1 concert was a pretty great one. In case you haven’t seen the myriad TV commercials that have been advertising the concert series in recent weeks, here’s a short primer: using QR codes and smart phones, Bud Light set up a big music contest with a wide range of prizes, from downloads to Live Nation concert cash to free headphones. The top prize—at least in my mind, probably not in the eyes of people who listen exclusively to top 40 radio—were tickets to one of the 50 (or I guess 51, because California for some reason got two) shows that played out across the country last night. The line-up and concert map were both pretty killer, bringing out both current buzz acts (Kendrick Lamar played Detroit, Miguel was one of the California artists, etc.) and seasoned club show veterans (Gaslight Anthem got Vermont, Jimmy Eat World took the Damage tour to Missouri, The Hold Steady were sequestered in Wyoming, etc.) But as fate would have it, the show I was most interested in getting tickets for was the one in the state I just relocated to: Butch Walker and friends, burning down Chicago.

Despite my best efforts, I had no luck winning a pair of tickets for this concert through the regular contest regulations. Short of doing something drastic—like actually paying for a case of Bud Light—getting enough QR codes to land a pair of tickets proved to be a reasonable challenge. I got my fair share of free downloads and Live Nation cash, but by the time my Facebook account got mad at me and stopped letting me win, I was no closer to the Butch Walker Chicago show than I had been when I started. Then yesterday, as I opened up my computer after lunch, my moment arrived. Butch had just sent out a tweet offering free tickets to the first 20 people to reply. In the two minutes since the tweet had hit the net, a dozen or so fans had already responded. I quickly put my name on the list, won a ticket, and re-arranged my schedule. A drive into the city, three separate bouts with road construction, and a hefty parking garage fee later (seriously, why the hell would anyone ever want to live in this state?) and I was waiting outside a place called the Murphy for my favorite guy in all of music to let us in.

In all of the concerts I’ve been to, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. First of all, the Murphy is not the kind of small, sweaty club or dingy dive bar that Butch usually plays. With a gorgeous stained glass window towering above the stage, flanked on either side by a pair of majestic white-washed pillars, this place looked more like a church than a rock ‘n’ roll venue. Google the Murphy, and you’ll find that the location is typically known as a venue for wedding receptions; no wonder no one knew where to find the building or what to expect when we got there. (“What the hell is this place?” Butch would ask later.) To add to the swanky atmosphere, there were sharply-dresser waiters wandering the concert floor and guys with tables full of pop, water, and beer waiting to assist guests as they walked through the door. On the plus side, all beverages were already paid for; on the negative side, the only beer option was Bud Light. “Well, um...I’ll have a Coke then.”

After making friends with a few Butch die-hards about two or three rows off the stage, we were treated to a solid opening set by Daniel Wade, an acoustic troubadour who supposedly won his opportunity to play this show through another social media contest on Butch’s Facebook. Wade was a nicely low-key opener, and his style of stripped-down, go-it-alone acoustic folk-rock fit with the mood of the evening. In the meantime, the Bud Light 50/50/1 concept was in the process of failing miserably, mostly because a lot of people who had actually won the tickets through the contest had evidently decided not to bother showing up. (Maybe because people who drink Bud Light don’t listen to good music; I stereotype, it’s faster.) Apparently Butch was pretty pissed about it too, because at 10:00, when he was supposed to go onstage, he sent bassist Jake Sinclair out to announce that he wasn’t playing the fucking show, man. Just kidding: Jake said that, since the turn-out hadn’t been too stellar, they were going to open the show to the public and that we should all invite our friends to come on down. Meanwhile, Butch was tweeting all of this from backstage, probably while downing shots of Jameson and fuming about how Bud Light hadn’t let him give away more tickets to real fans earlier.

All of this amounted to Butch taking the stage at 10:30, a half hour later than he had initially planned. Since the show needed to be over by midnight, that meant Butch’s usual 2-hour setlist was going to be truncated a bit. I don’t know if this was the fault of Chicago and curfew regulations or Bud Light and some standard “finish” time that had been laid for the entire 50/50/1 concert series, but suffice to say that I’m not too fond of either entity. Regardless of the time constraints though, Butch delivered completely, and gave newcomers and die-hard fans alike a prototypical post-Sycamore Meadows Butch Walker concert experience. Taking the stage alone for his now-customary opening solo set, Butch winded his way through a pair of emotionally bombastic piano ballads (“Passed Your Place” and “Joan”) before trading the keys for a sleek white electric guitar and a brand new song ("Peachtree Battles") that will supposedly be on his next release. The song was beautiful and nostalgic, a remembrance of small-town streets and young love, and it kicked my expectations for the new album into even higher gear. The way Butch can achieve pin-drop ambiance during a solo performance is truly unparalleled, and it was fully on display at the Murphy, even with a smaller-than-average crowd and a handful of listeners who were probably only on hand to drink.

Fan favorites “Don’t Move”—my personal top Butch Walker song—and “Going Back/Going Home”—with a tongue-in-cheek rap section that sums up Butch’s entire career in less than two minutes—were next on the docket, and the powerful sing-alongs they engendered had me wishing that the entire show could just be Butch solo, switching back and forth between new songs and old favorites. Of course, that was a pipe dream: the opening chords of the Springsteenian “Closer to the Truth and Further from the Sky” brought Butch’s band—Jake Sinclair and a drummer whose name I didn’t catch—onstage, and moments later, the venue was filled with electricity and noise. If anyone’s ears weren’t already ringing by that point, they certainly would be now.

The rest of the set essentially followed the rubric that Butch used for his similarly celebratory New Year’s Eve show (which also took place in Chicago). Live standards from Butch’s last few records with the Black Widows (his shifting array of backing musicians) provided the set’s backbone, from the vaudevillian Beatles pop of “Pretty Melody” to the southern rock rave-up that is “She Likes Hair Bands,” from the eighties-pop throwback of “Synthesizers” (complete with a now-customary “Come On, Eileen” snippet) to the raucous rock ‘n’ roll of main set closer, “Summer of ’89.” In between, we got a few more new songs (and did I hear that Butch was only planning on releasing an EP this fall?!!), including the audience-participation anthem,“I’ve Been Waiting for This,” and the rousing “Just Let It Go Where It’s Supposed To,” a touching folk-rock tribute to Butch’s ailing father, and one of the best songs he’s written in years.

There were a few surprises in store for old fans though. Shovels & Rope, a guy/girl country music duo made up of Michael Trent, one of Butch’s songwriting partners, and Carrie Ann Hearst, Trent’s wife, arrived for the dusk-folk gen that was “Closest Thing to You I’m Gonna Find,” and stuck around providing back-up vocals for the remainder of the main set. They even got an opportunity to sing “Birmingham,” the key track from O’ Be Joyful, their underappreciated debut album from last year. The duo’s arrival explained the “Butch Walker and Friends” tag on the ticket, and it was nice to see Trent and Sinclair, former bandmates from glam-rock group (and former Butch Walker opener), The Films, back together again. Despite the commercialized nature of the Bud Light concert series, Butch did this show entirely in his own way, and it never felt like the promotional aspects of the event clouded the power of the music.

I saw my first Butch Walker concert (and my first concert ever) on the 100+ degree evening of August 1, 2006. As I entered the Murphy on Thursday night for my eighth Butch Walker concert, it had been seven years to the day since that first night, and in that time, a lot has changed. I’ve gone from 15 to 22, for one thing. My music tastes have shifted and changed in ways that I never thought they would. I finished high school, finished college, got a job (sort of). And Butch put out three more records (four if you count the 2008 album from the 1969 side project), moving from glam rock to classic folk to alt-country to no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll and back again. Band members have come and gone, songs have entered and exited the setlist, hell, Butch even got onstage at the Grammys a few years ago to play some songs with Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks. But as Butch wrapped up the show on Thursday night, with a hair-metal-infused new song (“End of the World”) and a particularly unhinged take on an old one (“3 Kids in Brooklyn”), it could have been that night in 2006 all over again. Whether you judge shows by energy, emotion, song choice, sequencing, longevity, crowd participation, or some combination of the above, Butch Walker has always delivered in the club show environment like no one else, and that held true for the show at the Murphy last night, ticketing snafus, piss beer, and weeknight curfews aside. He says he’ll be back in November? I’ll be back too.


1. Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought of You
2. Joan
3. Peachtree Battles
4. Don't Move
5. Going Back/Going Home
6. Closer to the Truth and Further From the Sky
7. Pretty Melody
8. Just Let It Go Where It's Supposed To
9. Closest Thing to You I'm Gonna Find
10. I've Been Waiting for This
11. Birmingham (Shovels & Rope)
12. Synthesizers
13. She Likes Hair Bands
14. Summer of '89


15. End of the World
16. 3 Kids in Brooklyn
Tags: butch walker, bud light music first, daniel wade, shovels and rope
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The Butch Walker New Year's Eve Party - Chicago, IL
01/03/13 at 09:23 AM by narcoleptic953
Butch Walker
Live at the Bottom Lounge, Chicago, IL
December 31, 2012

When Butch Walker took the stage at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge late Monday evening, ready to ring in the New Year with a raucous crowd of fans (many of them aided and abetted by the ticket’s “open bar” provision), it was clear that the 42-year-old singer/songwriter was doing pretty well. He was all alone for the first few minutes, reprising the a cappella version of “Cigarette Lighter Love Song” that opened shows on his tour last fall, and as the set went forward, “reprisal” became a fairly good word to describe the proceedings. For me, the set was fairly familiar and straightforward, beginning with the usual dose of intimacy (“Cigarette Lighter” segued into a solo piano performance of the emotive ballad “Joan”) and then transitioning into a typical post-2008 Butch Walker show. Aside from the opening duo and a late-set inclusion of the sarcastic ditty that is “Race Cars & Goth Rock,” tonight’s line-up was culled almost exclusively from Walker’s last three records. That meant that the one-two punch of “Going Back/Going Home” and “Closer to the Truth and Further From the Sky” (the signature songs from 2008’s Sycamore Meadows, arguably Butch’s signature release) was well in place as the transition between the show-opening solo set and full-band blow-out began.

“Closer to the Truth” saw the entrance of Walker’s team for the night, a gang that included bassist Jake Sinclair (a fixture of Walker’s backing band, the Black Widows), drummer Stacy Jones (the frontman for American Hi-Fi), and Renaissance man Chris Thacker (who handled everything from auxiliary guitar to piano to mandolin). Butch himself seemed well-equipped for the New Year’s Eve party atmosphere, opting for an electric guitar rather than an acoustic for the entirety of the show, and scorching his way through proven crowd-pleasers like “Dublin Crow,” “The Weight of Her,” “She Likes hair Bands,” “Synthesizers,” “Summer of ’89,” and especially “3 Kids in Brooklyn.” Credit Walker’s most recent record, the 2011 rock ‘n’ roll revival of The Spade, for much of the infectious energy. That record was, quite simply, made to be played live, and an occasion like this one only rendered those songs more electric.

But while Walker’s ability to rock the house was in full supply on New Year’s Eve, the most special thing about this show (and about the nearly identical one Walker played at Chicago’s Double Door the night before) was the appearance of three new songs. Butch and the Black Widows went down to Nashville to write and record a new album at the tail end of November, and the progress they’ve made is promising, to say the least. Walker has never shied away from his country influences, especially on more recent records, but these three songs show a deeper enthrallment into folk and southern rock than anything he’s done so far. Butch rolled out the best of the new songs early, a backwoods country romp called “Let It Go Where It’s Supposed To” that he wrote about his relationship with his aging father. Prefaced by a lengthy introduction (where Butch actually called his parents to say hello), “Let It Go” burst with affection and energy, building to a readymade sing-along chorus that was nothing short of transcendent.

And singing along was definitely the name of the game with this latest batch of tunes. Always a proponent of audience participation (the nah-nah-nah chorus of his career-defining “When the Canyons Ruled the City” marked it as of the greatest encore songs of all time), Walker paraded out a pair of future fan favorites that allowed for just that. The first one, “I’ve Been Waiting for This,” rivaled “Canyons” in shout-along capability (and in twangy classicism), while the second, “End of the World,” positioned the crowd around a searing, southern-rock-meets-hair-metal guitar lick. Where “Let It Go” represented a full-on immersion into the Nashville scene, these two songs played as a more retrospective collision of where Walker has come from and where he’s going. With both, we can hear pieces of his past, from the freak-power-pop of his Marvelous 3 days to the glammy rock ‘n’ roll of 2006’s The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Lets-Go-Out-Tonites! If the rest of the new album--which should drop this spring or summer--is this exciting, Butch could be headed back for Album of the Year territory.


Cigarette Lighter Love Song
Going Back/Going Home
Closer to the Truth and Further From the Sky
Closest Thing to You I’m Gonna Find
Dublin Crow
Let It Go Where It’s Supposed To
The Weight of Her
I’ve Been Waiting For This


Pretty Melody
Race Cars and Goth Rock
She Likes Hair Bands
Summer of ‘89
End of the World
The 3 Kids in Brooklyn


Tags: Butch Walker, New Year's Eve 2012, new album, Bottom Lounge, Black Widows
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"And we wait for kingdom come with the radio on": The Gaslight Anthem
09/16/12 at 09:44 PM by narcoleptic953
The Gaslight Anthem
Live at St. Andrews Hall, Detroit, MI
September 14th, 2012

*Check this out on my blog too for a few more pictures

Disclaimer: This is going to be long.

The last time I saw a show at Detroit’s St. Andrew’s Hall, it was 2006: I was 15 years old, lining up for my first real concert, and temperatures had been hovering around 100 degrees all day. Needless to say, the heatwave turned that small and cramped club into a sauna, and I left the building soaked in sweat, smelling worse than anyone has the right to, and dehydrated to a dire state. But the night was legendary: I saw Butch Walker, one of my first and foremost musical heroes, give a show full of raucous antics and emotional intensity that cut through the heat and straight to the core of me. I’ve been to a lot of shows since then, big and small, from stadiums and arenas to the smallest clubs in Michigan, but that first one still has a spark about it that takes me back: my brother’s best friend making a wrong turn and ending up in some shady back alley (in Detroit, this is not a good thing); some homeless guy named Papa Smurf (who later ended up in the pages of Sports Illustrated) trying to bum a few bucks; the opening acts, which included a pre-fame Boys Like Girls and an energetic southern-rock act called As Fast As; Butch’s back-up singers spraying the crowd with hoses; and yes, one of the best setlists and shows I’ve seen by the guy who plays club shows better than anyone.

Perhaps it’s appropriate that my first appointment with the Gaslight Anthem bore a lot of similarities to that show. Over the past few years, Brian Fallon has slowly wormed his way into the ranks of my favorite frontmen in rock ‘n’ roll, and Gaslight’s latest, Handwritten, is likely to take the top spot on my album of the year list. In the time I’ve been a fan, it’s also become a joke of sorts between my brother and I that Fallon was never going to come back to Michigan. We missed out on his visits in 2010, in support of the band’s third album American Slang, and he’s spent most of the intervening years touring Europe, both with Gaslight and side-project The Horrible Crowes. When dates finally started coming out for the Handwritten tour, we were further disappointed by the fact that the band would be supporting Rise Against (along with rockers Hot Water Music) rather than going it alone. The tour included a Grand Rapids date, a short drive for both of us, but the prospect of paying double or triple our usual ticket price to see Gaslight play 12 or 13 songs didn’t seem too appealing.

Then, finally, our prayers were answered. Rise Against was taking a night off on the Friday before that GR show, and Gaslight and Hot Water Music each decided to do one-off tour dates in Detroit. So it was that my brother and I ended up in St. Andrew’s Hall, a sold out crowd swelling around us, waiting for Fallon and company to take the stage. Doors opened at 8, and with the stage already bedecked in Gaslight regalia, it was fairly clear that there was no opening act tonight. No nonsense, straight-to-the-point: the way Springsteen does it and the way I like it.

It was 9 p.m. on the dot when the band took the stage. Opener “Boomboxes and Dictionaries,” the lead-off track from the 2007 debut Sink or Swim announced two things: first, that this was going to be a concert of deep cuts and old songs, meant for the die-hard fans, and second, that the St. Andrew’s Hall sound set-up was abysmal. Fallon’s vocals were far too low in the mix, to the point where anyone unfamiliar with the songs would have had a hell of a time figuring out what he was singing about. The blend was messy at best, sacrificing clarity for sheer volume, and as the show went on, Alex Rosamilia’s lead guitar lines seemed to get sharper and sharper. All of these problems were consistent ones, a shame because the band played one hell of a setlist. Still, the atmosphere was electric, with a crowd full of people who clearly loved this band and these songs as much as I did, and with sing/shout along sessions that rocked the very foundations of the place. While I went back and forth on whether or not the trade-off was an even one (more on that later), The Gaslight Anthem didn’t disappoint.

The best songs in the setlist, almost unanimously, were those culled from the band’s latest record. Call it whatever you like, but the band was clearly the most at home with their latter-day material, and songs like “Howl,” “45,” and “Handwritten” set a high-water mark very early on in the night. That’s not to say that their earlier work fell flat, though. Classics from their 2008 album, The ’59 Sound, formed the backbone of the set, and the inclusions of “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues,” “Meet Me By The River’s Edge,” “The Patient Ferris Wheel,” “Film Noir,” and “The ’59 Sound” all gave way to triumphant sing-alongs. Speaking of those, “Keepsake” was a set highlight, with a skyscraping chorus that rang through the venue like a battle cry, and “American Slang” scorched like the anthem it is, with its massive guitar riff and yet another fist pumping hook.

But the poor quality of the sound definitely took its toll on what was otherwise a nearly spotless performance. I’ve often thought that I would like the songs from Sink or Swim a lot more if they were recorded now. The fidelity of the original recordings makes them sound like demos, but the actual songs are masterful, with more punk edge than the ones from The ’59 Sound, but very obviously cut from the same nostalgic cloth. With five of the album’s 12 songs represented here (“Boomboxes,” “Wooderson,” “Angry Johnny and the Radio,” “1930,” and “We Came to Dance”), this should have been a perfect opportunity to see those songs reborn. Unfortunately, the fuzzy and muddy sound production lent them nothing new, and while they were still fun, welcome additions to the set (especially the last two, which the band pulled out as the show entered its final act), they did not end as highlights for me.

Furthermore, I don’t know if Alex Rosamilia was having an off night in general or if he just couldn’t hear his own instrument (I wouldn’t blame him), but the guitar solos were off-the-mark and strangely ineffective for most of the concert. They ranged from too quiet (the riffs on songs like “Keepsake” and “Mulholland Drive,” moments that define those songs on record but were almost inconsequential here) to sloppy and out-of-tune (the sweeping transitions in “Mae,” which disappointed live after being one of my favorite songs they’ve ever written). It was a bizarre and unfortunate enigma for the band member who really makes Handwritten what it is, and I didn’t quite know how to take it.

But overall, the great moments far outweighed the disappointments. American Slang highlight “The Queen of Lower Chelsea” was a definite treat, slowing down the tempo for a subdued moment late in the main set. Handwritten b-side “Blue Dahlia,” with its rousing chorus and perfect bridge, got the live feature I never thought it would. And finally seeing “The Backseat” live, as the first curtain call, was as euphoric and emotionally visceral as I always knew it would be. There are moments from every live show I’ve been too that I will remember for the rest of my life: looking around me as the house lights went up during “Born to Run” at my first Springsteen show and seeing the ranks of the Palace of Auburn Hills rising around me, all of us screaming along at the top of our lungs; the opening guitar riff of “Where the Streets Have No Name” echoing through a flawless summer night at Spartan Stadium a week or two before the end of U2’s 360 tour; Butch Walker gesturing to my brother and I to help him down into the audience at one of the concerts where we had ended up front and center. Belting along with “The Backseat,” shouting about how “we rode the fever out of Austin” and “dreamed of California lights,” was absolutely up there, and I realized that, ultimately, my complaints about the sound and about how Rosamilia’s guitar didn’t sound quite as pitch-perfect as it does on record didn’t really matter at all. This show was all about the atmosphere: it was about the electricity of the crowd, about the gleeful performance from the band we all loved, and about the setlist that traveled to every corner of their discography. It was about rediscovering the power of rock ‘n’ roll, and I didn’t want that last song to end because I just wanted to keep on cherishing it.

Luckily, that wasn’t the last song. Not by a long shot.

After much racket from the crowd, The Gaslight Anthem re-took the stage and rocketed into a pair of ‘90s covers (Pearl Jam’s “State of Love and Trust” and Nirvana’s “Sliver”). While I don’t particularly care for either song, the band was visibly passionate about both and Brian especially looked like he was having a ball with them. “Biloxi Parish,” despite being considered by some as one of the weaker points of Handwritten was nothing short of potent and transcendent here, resulting in one of my favorite moments of the set. And “Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts” provided a note of emotional weight and solemnity to an encore that was otherwise about big, brash rock songs. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the best and most enduring things that Fallon has written to date.

I’ve seen artists skimp on the encore a lot of times before. A year and a half ago, Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam brought my disappointment in his live show full-circle by doing a cop out, one-song encore that wasn’t “The Trapeze Swinger.” Ryan Adams took intimacy to a new height during his show at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival last winter, but left it feeling truncated and unfinished when he departed the stage after “Come Pick Me Up” and didn’t come back. The best shows are the ones with the artists who just keep going, the ones who come back for “one more song” three or four times and act like they never want to leave the stage. Bruce Springsteen is famous for this, and on Friday night, Brian Fallon and the guys in the Gaslight Anthem channeled that stamina in spades. The house lights didn’t go up after the band’s second departure, and even though many of my fellow audience members started moving towards the exits, I was holding onto hope that they still had a little more to give. Lo and behold, after copious amounts of shouting, screaming, clapping, and stomping, the boys were back onstage one more time, for that elusive second encore.

As I mentioned before, the band kicked off their final stand with a pair of Sink or Swim songs (“1930” and “We Came to Dance”), both of which crackled with the same energy and force that they had been channeling all night. “The Diamond Church Street Choir” took one of the evening’s few trips into American Slang territory (suffice to say that I could have done with a few more), and “Here’s Looking At You, Kid” functioned in much the same way as “Blue Jeans” had – as a gorgeous, sobering torch song. When the guitar riff for ’59 Sound opener “Great Expectations” echoed through the hall, there seemed to be an agreement of sorts between the band and the audience that this was the grand finale, and both parties acted accordingly. The crowd surged forward, transforming the venue’s floor into a riotous mosh pit. In situations like this, you have no choice but to give yourself over to the insanity of it all, to go with the ebb and flow of the crowd, hang on for dear life, and hope you don’t die. But one last explosive, sweaty, communal sing-along was just what the set needed to send it off, and even though I didn’t get my choice for a closer (the latest single “Here Comes My Man,” which was surprisingly absent from the set), you can’t complain too much with a song as good as “Expectations.”

At two hours and 29 songs, with a pair encores and more memorable moments than I can possibly expound upon here, Friday night’s gig was the longest show The Gaslight Anthem have played all year. It was longer than the Handwritten album release show or any of the concerts they played in Europe. It was certainly more sprawling than all of their supporting dates with Rise Against and Hot Water Music, past or future, or any of the slots they played on the festival circuit. It was also a textbook example of the age-old rock ‘n’ roll show agreement between a performer and their audience: the band gave fans an epic marathon show that covered deep cuts and greatest hits alike, and in turn, we gave them a chance to let loose, have fun, and own the room like the rock stars they deserve to be. Five years into their career, The Gaslight Anthem are already building a legacy of great songs, better albums, and evocative classic rock traditions, and their live shows follow suit with all of that. Had the sound in St. Andrew’s Hall be a bit better, I might have been ready to proclaim this concert as one of the greatest I had ever seen; even with that, though, it’s still pretty damn close, and that’s worth an awful lot.


1. Boomboxes and Dictionaries
2. American Slang
3. Howl
4. Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
5. 45
6. Handwritten
7. Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?
8. Wooderson
9. Meet Me By The River's Edge
10. Keep Sake
11. Angry Johnny and the Radio (with Brand New - "Jesus Christ" tag)
12. The Patient Ferris Wheel
13. The '59 Sound
14. Film Noir
15. Senor and the Queen
16. Blue Dahlia
17. The Queen of Lower Chelsea
18. Mulholland Drive
19. Mae
20. The Backseat


21. State of Love and Trust (Pearl Jam cover)
22. Silver (Nirvana Cover)
23. Biloxi Parish
24. Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts

Second Encore

25. 1930
26. We Came to Dance
27. The Diamond Church Street Choir
28. Here's Looking At You, Kid
29. Great Expectations
Tags: The Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon, The Horrible Crowes, Bruce Springsteen
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Best of 2011
01/05/12 at 06:42 PM by narcoleptic953
I figured I might as well link all of these through ap, so here goes:

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