It’s official – The Gaslight Anthem are taking a break. This is sad news to all fans but without a doubt not entirely unexpected. However, London fans seem to hold a special place in the band’s heart as their last headline show took place London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. And what a farewell gig it was! No classic was left out and they even played some of the songs that are secretly close to everyone’s heart. And most importantly, it was an homage to the fans that have been there from the start as the band played many a song from the first album Sink or Swim. Plus, there was a surprise guest that made the evening epic – but more about that later on.
First, let’s get the negative bit out of the way. The venue didn’t have great sound if you ask me. It may have been a one off thing, as I haven’t been there before but it was extremely hard to understand any of the singing at all. If you didn’t know the lyrics, you would have had no clue what they were singing about. However, it is a beautiful little venue.
It all kicked off with ‘Handwritten’ and ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’’ – which was a change to the usual pace of the previous ‘Get Hurt’ tour gigs that usually started off with a slow, bass-induced version of ‘Have Mercy’. It was clear, this was going to be different, epic, beautiful.
I could go on and write a cute little love letter about each of the songs played but I’ll spare you the long read. However, notable mentions are ‘Blue Dahlia’ which is my absolute favorite song from the band ever, the lyrics are wonderful and the sound is strong. ‘Boomboxes and Dictionaries’ and ‘Old Haunts’ also found their way onto the set list.
As I mentioned earlier the gig was graced with a guest appearance by Mr Frank Turner. Checking out his Twitter earlier in the day I had a feeling he would make an appearance. It was like Christmas, my birthday and winning the lotto all came on the same day. I had seen Frank and Brian doing stuff together in the past on YouTube but never had been lucky enough to catch it live. Not last night. Frank Turner was introduced by Brian as ‘one of the people who haven’t changed’ and how that’s a rare thing in the business. Agreed. The pair played a slow version of ‘Great Expectations’ – a very rockabilly nostalgic song off the ’59 Sounds record.
‘We’re getting a divorce, you keep the diner’ finished off the gig that would go down in the band’s history. A song so fitting to all the rumoured reasons for the break, the band’s history and marking how everyone felt about the night. The final words of the song being ‘Stay hungry, stay free, and do the best you can’ – a message of better things to come.
We will truly miss the boys and their ’59 sound that got our hearts racing and filled our heads with dreams of a better love. They gave us songs to cherish, songs to listen to when our hearts got broken and songs to scream to so that we’d wake up with no voice. I bow my head to you, Gaslight Anthem, for being one in a million among bands that only care about making money. I thank you for the truly inspiring music and magnificent songwriting.