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The Gaslight Anthem, O2 Academy Oxford

June 29, 2010

I caught the Gaslight Anthem’s set at Reading Festival last year and was amazed at their ability to grab the attention of the entire tent and bring them together to sing along to their most well-known tracks, the biggest at that time was The ’59 Sound.

Tonight, it’s an entirely different kind of crowd build up of ardent fans bursting with anticipation of hearing the tracks that some may have been listening to for a good while as their latest album, American Slang was leaked online months before it’s release. It’s a testament to how it was received that the venue is packed out, especially when taking into account the sweltering heat outside, which is only amplified by the closely packed bodies inside and it is almost unbearably hot. These people aren’t going to let a bit of heat worry them though,  they’re here to see the band often compared to their fellow New Jersey resident, Bruce Springsteen – especially after sharing both their, and his stage at Glastonbury last year.

The band open with the title track from their new album, and it goes down as if it’s an old favourite with a solid core of the crowd singing along and moving despite it being so closely packed. They play a set that spans their discography, even throwing in ‘We Did It When We Were Young’ that they’d apparently never played live before. The songs that were most familiar to me didn’t stick out as better, as they would have in the hands of many other bands and I enjoyed them all equally, which is a testament to their talent and skill as a live band. Something that could only be achieved by actually working hard to get to the position they’re in, a fact they referenced when saying they were only genuinely nice guys because they’d fought so hard for this, starting out sticking on labels and burning their own demos just to get heard.

As they retreated offstage in preparation for this encore the sweaty, sticky crowd were baying for more, shouting as loud as they could for the band to return to the stage, hinting at how far, and how popular they’ve become. The encore turned out to be even better than the main set, with them playing songs just because they felt like it and attempting to ‘bust through the curfew’ of 11pm by playing far more than they’d ever intended. They ended triumphantly with the whole venue singing along to ‘The Backseat’ and coming away completely satisfied, with massive grins on their faces. It was the perfect end to an exceptional concert and I urge anyone who has ever heard of them to buy a ticket to their November tour right now, because they are going to sell out, and fast.

Set List

American Slang
Old White Lincoln
Stay Lucky
Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
Bring It On
The Diamond Church Street Choir
State of Love and Trust (Pearl Jam cover)
The ’59 Sound
Boxer
Miles Davis and the Cool
The Queen of Lower Chelsea
The Spirit of Jazz
Great Expectations
We Did It When We Were Young

Encore:

Casanova, Baby!
Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts
Film Noir
We Came To Dance
We’re Getting A Divorce, You Keep The Diner
Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid
The Navesink Banks
Señor And The Queen
The Backseat

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