How do you put what happened that night into words? I’ve been staring at this page just shaking my head for the better part of 15 minutes now, just trying to explain the magic that is The Gaslight Anthem. Maybe if I just start from the start…
Diehard fans believe no one can hold a candle (or a gas light) to Gaslight Anthem. The hardest thing in the world would be to open up for a band revered by so many; Delaying the crowd from being in the presence of their musical icons. You expect docile applause, heckling and chants of the headline act – but once in a while a band comes along that does the support slot justice. Foxy Shazam was that band.
A late addition to the bill – Polar Bear Club had been scheduled to support the mighty Gaslight, but pulled out within the last month – Foxy Shazam basically had a blank slate with the crowd at Sydney’s Metro theatre. I mean, who had ever heard of them? Truth: No one who was in the crowd will ever forget them.
Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem front man), put it best when he described Foxy Shazam’s front man Eric Sean Nally as “the love child of Steve Tyler and James Brown”. Writhing around on stage like a epileptic and jumping around like a wound up toy, Nally fronted a rag-tag group of misfits and apparent deviants who not only put on a fucking brilliantly entertaining show, but who also were all incredibly accomplished musicians.
Stage antics highlights: Frog jumps, body mechanics, push ups, commando rolls, headstands, back climbing, story-telling, playing your keyboard through your legs, playing your keyboard while on your head, playing on your keyboard while standing on it & a doo-wop acappella finale. Amazing.
As the very foxy, Foxy Shazam left the stage, the sold out metro started to sweat with excitement. By the time red curtain opened and the New Jersey four-piece swaggered on, the anticipation was palpable.
“We’re the Gaslight Anthem and we’re from New Jersey. We don’t have any jokes, so we’re just going to play some songs,” Brian quietly said to the screaming crowd before bursting into their first track.
Combining the best parts of Bruce Springsteen and The Misfits, Gaslight Anthem are the epitome of the Jersey Sound – Working class heroes on a journey through love and heartbreak from the crowded streets of Manhattan to the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore.
Kicking out tracks from all three of their LPs as well as the amazing ‘Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts’ from their EP Senor and The Queen, the hour and a half set at the metro not only cemented Gaslight as one of the best live bands getting around today, but also proved that their entire catalogue is – to quote Sum 41 – all killer, no filler.
Front man Brian Fallon offered a complete contrast to Nally of Foxy Shazam. While both are incredible storytellers and had the Metro eating out of the palm of their hands, Fallon did so with as much humble modesty as Nally did extraverted flair.
While Nally’s nervous energy made him seem slightly pretentious and Hives-esque, the huge smile on Fallon’s face when the crowd took over vocal duties on Here’s Looking At You, Kid made you believe he was genuinely surprised by how embraced his band were with audiences so far from home.
Faux – closing their set on Backseats from The 59 Sound before returning for a six song encore (Really? That’s practically a whole other set), The Gaslight anthem galloped into their final song – a hard hitting cover of The Who’s Baba O’Reily. And then, alas, Gaslights love affair with Sydney came to an end as they took their bows and left the stage – promising to return to our shores sooner rather than later.
What a fucking great band. What a fucking great show.