Brian Fallon & The Crowes @ O2 Forum Kentish Town, 16/11/2016

Last night Brian Fallon & The Crowes returned to the capital for their second night of an extensive UK tour with Chris Farren and Dead Swords in tow. The follow-up to Brian’s first tour this spring is off to an inspiring start and the new solo adventure fits like a glove.   

Just a little over half a year after Brian Fallon released his first solo record Painkillers he’s back in the UK with a ten-date tour that will extend into Europe in December. This time around he brings Alex Rosamilia’s new project Dead Swords and US-touring buddy Chris Farren along with him. And what a brilliant choice of supports it is to get you in the mood for the headliner: Dead Sword’s mellow yet intense tunes remind of the last Gaslight Anthem album Get Hurt and set the stage perfectly for those slower, heart-string pulling songs. You should check out Dead Swords’ EP on Spotify or Bandcamp – it’s been on repeat all morning for me.

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Second support of the night came from the weirdly perfect Chris Farren. You might know him from his bands Fake Problems or Antarctigo Vespucci, but you’ll probably also know him from his famously hilarious social media presence. In September Chris released his debut album Can’t Die and last night he showed the UK just how good he is live. We were warned but we were not prepared – wonderful weirdness including pre-recorded standing ovations, rockstar photo sessions and, baby, funny as hell. In all seriousness though, Chris’ set was not just fully entertaining but moreso a fun, clever sound that draws you in and keeps you tapping your feet (we’re in England, that’s how excitement is shown I’ve been told).

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As Brian Fallon and The Crowes take the stage the North London venue has finally filled up almost completely with eagerly awaiting fans. They know they’re in for 90 minutes of Americana and story-telling including dating advice and the election. By the way, in case you were wondering, Brian’s ultimate dating tips (and he has a good point) to know if you should date someone or not is to take them to a restaurant and watch how they treat the waiter/waitress, that’s how they’ll treat you in five years. And: New Jersey voted all blue (Hillary), FYI. Brian cheekily notes that Nobody Wins is now the (un)official anthem of not just the National Lottery but also the US elections.

Something about Brian Fallon’s songs, whether it’s solo or with The Gaslight Anthem, makes you feel homesick for a place you’ve never lived in or even been to. It makes you want to move to New Jersey and work in a diner in some small town. The retro-romanticism in his songs is lyrical genius and relatable at the same time. Songs like Red Lights, Open All Night and Rosemary especially showcase this overarching theme. And while the new album is uplifting and more of a happy nature, the moody blues of Elsie are the ones that really pack a punch with the audience. Mary Ann is an absolute killer live (also probably a killer strain on Brian’s voice) and Crush turns out to be a crowd favorite tonight. And how to best please English rock audiences? An impromptu Oasis cover over Don’t Look Back In Anger! Brian’s latest man crush on Noel Gallagher is to blame (or thank) for that one. Many a fan in the audience is, with a 90% chance, a previous Gaslight Anthem fan and so it comes as no surprise when the first notes of National Anthem coming from Fallon’s guitar hit the room, the crowd greets it with a loving cheer. It isn’t just the fact that it’s a beloved TGA song, it’s also one of their best ones. And with no encores (a welcome tradition imposed by Brian with the words “I’d rather sing two more songs”), the evening finishes on a positivity-fueled high with A Wonderful Life. 

And what a wonderful life it is that has artists like Brian Fallon in it, who unlike modern rock bands doesn’t take the stage to impress anyone. He’s there to have fun, and so is his audience. His undying love for the UK, London especially, is replicated by those that have come to listen closely to what he has to say and sing. It all feels like a big night out with your friends from school who formed a band – banter, music and sheer fun. Exactly what gigs should be.

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