The Waterfront, Norwich.
To The Waterfront, for a downsized-from-the-UEA* concert by erstwhile Gaslight Anthem front man Brian Fallon and his five-piece band The Crowes. First on the three band bill, a performance which could charitably be referenced as shimmering sheets of slashing electric guitar combined in effectual waves to create a veritable cathedral of post-rock, but which was more accurately described by my gig companion as “The noise made by someone sound checking in an empty stadium”.
Let’s skip on then, to Chris Farren, who appeared on stage with a big goofy smile, an array of pedals, a small keyboard with which he performed the first number and a band-in-a-box and an electric guitar with which he essayed the others. In contrast to the progress of the evening thus far, Farren threw himself around the stage, tossed his mane of Hanson-like hair, threw shapes and generally gave the impression that he was delighted to be there. After two songs I beat a path to the merch table (I didn’t purchase the bedsheet-sized flag featuring his face available for £20) and after three I sent a message to my Jellyfish-loving friend Steve imploring him to do some digging on the internets. He finished his set with a sample of applause, thanked us for “…another standing ovation for Chris Farren!”** and bustled off into the wings.
Brian Fallon, all New Jersey bluster and tattoos in his previous incarnation, came on stage in good time and must have spent a good five minutes just talking to us before kicking in to the opening number. It was marvellous. Looking and sounding much more relaxed than in his Hyde Park-era Springsteen-opening days, I could happily have listened to him spin yarns for a further ten or fifteen, so engaging was the chat. This became a feature of the show, and included a pin-sharp analysis of the dissonance between what a heckler thinks they’re shouting, and what the rest of us hear. “You think – holds out imaginary cocktail glass – you’re saying ‘Your music engages me and I have spent many a happy hour listening to your excellent records, and we hear (*bangs head on microphone*) ‘hhuuurrrgghhaaayyaaah!’. And it’s always guys…”. Nevertheless, the music itself was satisfyingly upbeat guitar-led fare – if you’ve heard The ’59 Sound you pretty much know what to expect – with extra texture added by twelve string guitars, keyboards and the odd harmony vocal.
I wasn’t expecting overly much when I signed up, but I came away from the evening thoroughly impressed, thoroughly entertained and musically sated. Who could ask for anything more?
*It is a big college town, actually.
**It’s a no-seater venue.
Mixed – some tatts, some beards, a couple of hecklers, a few Gaslight Anthem t-shirts, a few selfiers.
It made me think..
Who, on god’s clean lovely earth, pays twenty five quid to stand in a room talking to their boyfriend and updating their Facebook status all night? |Still – as Brian said “It’s your night out, do what you what. I’m not curing cancer up here or anything like that”.