The Gaslight Anthem, 02 Apollo, Manchester, Monday 17 November 2014
Tuesday 18th November 2014 @ 11:00 by Max Wieland

Towards the end of The Gaslight Anthem’s very impressive gig in Manchester last night; lead singer and guitarist Brian Fallon told the crowd he’d forgot to put his contact lenses in, announcing: “You look like 20,000 blurry fingers at the moment, I definitely need glasses.”

GASLIGHT ANTHEM: Alternative Punk-Rockers lived up to their billing in Manchester last night. Photo courtesy of Drew Gurian.

GASLIGHT ANTHEM: The Alternative Punk-Rockers lived up to their billing in Manchester last night.
Photo courtesy of Drew Gurian.

Which might be an explanation for the upside-down love heart that graced Gaslight Anthem’s latest album Get Hurt, which was illustrated behind the American four-piece as they kicked off their UK tour in Manchester last night.

After touring Europe for the past couple of weeks – Germany in particular – the New Jersey rockers quickly powered into the albums opening track Stay Vicious, a gutsy powerful track which more than filled the vast echo space inside the 02 Apollo Manchester.

The popular ‘59 sound was surprisingly polished off next before Fallon instructed the full capacity crowd that their 9.30pm until 11pm gig slot meant that they would be rifling through their back catalogue.

The 34-year-old then told the packed crowd – the first of a two night residency at the Apollo for Gaslight Anthem – that it has been a while since they were in town, the last of their shows in Manchester coming just over two years ago at the Apollo on the 18 October 2012.

“Manchester, it’s been too long,” he cheekily smirked.

“Can I first just thank you all for bringing the sun out with you today as well, as we have not seen it in weeks. We’re on a very tight curfew tonight so we’re just gonna play right through, I don’t want you guys thinking that we’re going to do that usual trick where we come back on stage for an encore because the lights are still off, we’re just going to carry on playing until we get cut off if that’s alright with you guys.”

And of course it was, especially when they carried on their early trajectory towards a hysteric crowd with Handwritten, 1,000 years and Rollin’ and Tumblin’ coming next.

The down side to this was that there was bound to be a slight downturn in pace and energy at some point, which ultimately came halfway through this 21-song set.

sea of crowd surfers

The main criticism I always find with this extremely well-polished and musically gifted band is that all of their songs are brilliant, but very few are exceptional.

There’s no standout mammoth hit single that will push Gaslight Anthem onto the arenas and stadiums that they will ultimately headline, not that this crowd in Ardwick particularly minded one bit.

They lapped up the majority of songs with aplomb, at many times going wild for Fallon’s husky effortless lyrics and causing carnage when the last song The Backseat played out to a sea of crowd surfers from every angle.

Other crowd favourites ultimately came early on, with 45 unsurprisingly keeping the pack of girls at the front in a state of euphoria whilst clinging to the barrier of this sloped venue, and more so for Great Expectations, but in a more surprising way than expected.

Instead of exploding through the songs gears as in the past, the constantly beaming Fallon announced: “Whilst we’ve been here in Europe for a couple of weeks, we’ve been working on an old song during that time in a new way, and you know what, it’s been working nicely, so let’s see if you like it, here we go.”

It was stripped back from all of its usual ferocity in parts and instead blended nicely into Biloxi Parish, which included a simply fantastic sample of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs, similar in sort’s to the sample Arctic Monkeys have been playing during the live performance of Arabella.

Another cover from Gaslight Anthem came towards the end as they impressed above any other versions of The House of the Rising Sun, such was the passion behind Fallon’s voice and the power and timing from drummer Benny Horowitz.

Fallon might have been the only one seeing 20,000 fingers last night in this 3,500 capacity venue, but it won’t be long until the whole of The Gaslight Anthem see 20,000 fingers on a regular basis, it is just going to take another solid album to propel them there.

  • Gaslight Anthem returns to the Apollo tonight for another gig before embarking on the rest of their UK tour. For tickets contact the venue directly.