brian fallon @ the black cat

There’s no doubt that the Gaslight Anthem’s The ’59 Sound is an incredible album, from start to finish; it deserved every piece of raving praise that it received at the end of 2008 and I’m desperately excited for their next release. They also put on one of the best live shows I’ve seen — with his band behind him, Brian Fallon was born for the stage.

But I did wonder, walking into the show last night: could Brian Fallon sell his hugely anthemtic rock songs to an audience full of scene kids in a venerable old punk club in DC by himself, with only an acoustic guitar, a stupid hat, and Dave Hause of the Loved Ones to help him?

I shouldn’t have worried. He can, and last night he did it with the sort of charm and panache that’s rare even in the best frontmen; Brian laughed and told stories and messed with the audience, in between Gaslight songs and a series of increasingly fantastic covers. The Gaslight songs are just as bombastic, heartbreaking, and hopeful when the volume in them comes from the chorus of underage kids singing them back at Fallon, and anyone who will march on stage and immediately start talking about how he reads a lot of books about shitty husbands because he’s trying to figure out how not to be one is A-OK in my book.

(Other topics covered by Fallon last evening: Gaslight’s Swedish booking agent; how he might get kidnapped if they play in Brazil; Jersey Shores and how it’s offensive to him; why he can’t cover “Land Down Under” because “that one part, you know what part I mean” is too high for him, complete with demonstration; Eli Manning’s sexuality; the couple in the front row who he decided were definitely going to work out.)

The company was (as always) top-notch, the pre-show dinner was great, and the show was flawless — Dave Hause is a fantastic performer and I’m thrilled he’s putting out a solo record, Brian made me laugh til I cried (and also cry), he covered Creedence and together he and Dave covered Johnny Cash and Patti Griffin. It was a night where everything felt perfect.

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