Live: The Gaslight Anthem @ Shepherds Bush Empire

“We wanted to let everyone know that we’ll all be taking a break from The Gaslight Anthem after this next European tour in August. We’re all going to do other projects and stay active in some way or another, both in and out of music, but we’d like to step away from the band until we decide what we’d like to do next.” Leading with this statement to followers of the band on Facebook ahead of heading to Europe for a series of headline and festival dates was bound to be heart-breaking for some. But the 2000 or so lucky fans that were able to snap up tickets to their final headline show ahead of their indefinite hiatus at least got to see them off in style.

Brian Fallon (Kalpesh Patel)

Brian Fallon (Kalpesh Patel)

The New Jersey-based rockers managed to squeeze in a show at West London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire in-between their main stage appearances at the twin Reading and Leeds festivals for what was, undoubtedly, a bittersweet evening of music for which the band explored the dustiest corners of their extensive back catalogue.

Brian Fallon (Kalpesh Patel)

Brian Fallon (Kalpesh Patel)

Known for the story-telling style of their songs, similarities to and the obvious influences of fellow Jerseyan Bruce Springsteen were rife as the Brian Fallon-fronted 5-piece kicked off their epic 23-song set with the title track of their fourth studio album, Handwritten.

Brian Fallon (Kalpesh Patel)

Brian Fallon (Kalpesh Patel)

They tore straight into Rollin’ and Tumblin’ from their latest offering Get Hurt before giving the crowd a bit more of their back catalogue with The ’59 Sound single Old White Lincoln, the ornate walls of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire reflecting the legacy of the band’s history.

Brian Fallon (Kalpesh Patel)

Brian Fallon (Kalpesh Patel)

Always a band to pay homage to those who have inspired them, in a twist of irony, this night’s show had them incorporate Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1998 hit single Scar Tissue into the closing bars of Get Hurt track Sweet Morphine.

Brian Fallon (Kalpesh Patel)

Brian Fallon (Kalpesh Patel)

“This is our day off between Leeds and Reading” the 35-year-old frontman bellowed as he addressed the crowd, not pointing out the elephant in the room – that this may well be the last Gaslight Anthem headline show for a while.

Alex Levine (Kalpesh Patel)

Alex Levine (Kalpesh Patel)

Responding to an audience member’s pleading request Fallon responded, “You want me to sing Happy Birthday? I’m not singing Happy Birthday!” “It’s no ones birthday!” he jested. “Well, it’s Michael Jackson’s birthday today, but none of yours.”

Alex Rosamilia (Kalpesh Patel)

Alex Rosamilia (Kalpesh Patel)

Following Handwritten song Too Much Blood, the frontman beamed at the crowd as he introduced a special guest. “I want to bring out my favourite British person to help with this next song.” Frank Turner appeared on stage as Fallon joked that he had requested Turner’s microphone be placed as far away from his own as possible to detract from the height difference between the two men. The newly extended band then broke into ’59 Sound single and fan favourite, heart-swelling Great Expectations.

Brian Fallon & Frank Turner (Kalpesh Patel)

Brian Fallon & Frank Turner (Kalpesh Patel)

“We’re gonna watch that on YouTube, I hope someone filmed that! We’re gonna google ourselves, it’ll be the first time we’ve googled ourselves” joked Fallon as Turner departed the stage.

Brian Fallon & Frank Turner (Kalpesh Patel)

Brian Fallon & Frank Turner (Kalpesh Patel)

It was then back to business as usual as the band closed out the night with The ’59 Sound and debut record track We’re Getting a Divorce, You Keep the Diner.

Brian Fallon (Kalpesh Patel)

Brian Fallon (Kalpesh Patel)

There was no long, slow goodbye, any encores or recognition at all of the significance of the night. But it was apparent from the moshing and crowd-surfing at the front of the crowd to grown men bellowing along to every lyric all the way at the back, behind the bar that this will be a band missed on the live circuit. Whether they’re putting out new records or not, The Gaslight Anthem have a very special place in many hearts, poignant as the lights came up over the upside down heart from the Get Hurt album artwork that made up the backdrop for the evening.

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Photography & Review by Kalpesh Patel. The Gaslight Anthem @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 29/08/2015.

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