The “Bruuuce Birds” flocked to the Boardwalk on Friday evening calling for The Boss to rear his head after each of The Gaslight Anthem’s first 18 selections of a 27-song set in support of the Wounded Warrior Project at The Asbury Park Convention Hall. And as the roadie appeared from the shaded wings of the stage, microphone stand in hand, a sudden hush fell over the sold out congregation, as the moment they’d been calling for since the Punk collective opened with “Great Expectations” more than 60-minutes prior was unfolding before them…the silence before the storm.
“We didn’t forget where we came from,” expressed Gaslight Anthem front-man Brian Fallon after addressing the assemblage in a fashion similar to Springsteen’s holiday themed playfulness in the E-Street Band’s famed live rendition of ‘Santa Clause Is Coming Town.’ “Want me to me see if he’s back there? Alright, I’ll check it out.”
Clad in a brown leather bomber jacket Springsteen emerged from the backstage area and like a Rock N’ Roll Saint Nicholas, a six-string strapped to his back in place of a toy sack, shouted two words: “Merry Christmas!”
And with that the accomplices stroked the opening chords to The Gaslight Anthem’s breakthrough single “American Slang,” off the group’s 2010 full-length release of the same name.
But the look on Fallon’s face throughout the collaborative effort said this was more than merely a pair of the Garden State’s finest songwriters sharing a stage. This was a burgeoning Rock Star singing with his hero, and confessing to the legend as well with the first chorus. “…I got your name tattooed inside of my arm,” crooned Fallon, he and Springsteen locking eyes on one another. “I called for my father but my father had died. While you told me fortunes in American Slang.”
Although the obvious highlight of the evening for a majority of the assemblage, it was by no means the only thrill as The Gaslight Anthem weaved it’s rendition of the Pearl Jam classic “State Of Love And Trust,” into a set riddled with the deepest of cuts from the group’s catalogue including such fist tossing rage-tunes as “We Came To Dance,” “Boomboxes and Dictionaries,” and “1930,” which seemed to transform the music hall into a raucous underground display of yesteryear when the band would often frequent the basement scene of New Brunswick.
And to pay homage their time as basement dwellers The Gaslight Anthem performed the first song the band ever penned in one of those dingy dwellings, “Our Fathers Sons,” for the first time live, a delight to the mass of music enthusiasts on hand.
The outfit opened its five-song encore with the Sink Or Swim (2007) gem “The Navesink Banks” and closed with its rendering of The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” before leaving the audience with a final sentiment.
“Thank you for supporting us all these years,” said Fallon to his people. “We’ve always wanted to play the Convention Hall since we were kids and now we have, and it’s because of all of you.”
NOTE: More photos and videos from the night coming soon.
1. Great Expectations
2. Old White Lincoln
3. The Diamond Street Church Choir
4. Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
6. The ’59 Sound
7. We Came To Dance
8. The Patient Ferris Wheel
9. Wherefore At THou, Elvis
10. The Spirit Of Jazz
11. Boomboxes and Dictionaries
12. Angry Johnny And The Radio
13. Miles Davis and the Cool
14. Blue Jean & White T-Shirts
15. Film Noir
16. Casanova Baby!
17. State Of Love and Trust (Pearl Jam)
18. Senor and the Queen
19. American Slang (w/Bruce Springsteen)
20. The Queen Of Lower Chelsea
21. Here’s Looking at You, Kid
22. The Backseat
23. Our Fathers Sons
24. The Navesink Banks
26. She Loves You
27. Baba O’Reilly (The Who)