Music Monday: The Gaslight Anthem in Concert

I had never heard of The Gaslight Anthem until Christmas morning last year. My brother bought me their CDs for Christmas, telling me “they’re a mix of punk and Bruce Springsteen, so I figured you’d like them”. Sometimes, I am a very easy person to figure out.

The Gaslight Anthem have released two albums – their debut album ‘Sink or Swim’ is edgier, with more of a punk feel. Their follow up, ‘The ’59 Sound’, moves into a more melodic sound, incorporating a greater diversity of sounds. Both are awesome. (Their EP ‘Senor and the Queen’ is pretty good too).

I saw them perform at the Starlite Room in Edmonton earlier this year, and this Saturday caught them at the Edmonton Event Centre on their second time through this year.

Anticipating an early set (doors were at 6, show at 7), we showed up shortly after 8. The second of three opening acts, The Loved Ones, were on stage.

The Loved Ones

The Loved Ones, a punk band from Philadelphia, aren’t high on originality – they sound similar to any number of punk acts that might have been on a Tony Hawk video game soundtrack ten years ago – but are definitely worth checking out if you like that sound. I enjoyed them a lot; it took me back to my teen years when I listened to more punk music and would go to Warped Tour. They put on a fun set, playing with a lot of energy and interacting well with the crowd. At one point, the lead singer took away someone’s phone in the front row, telling him/her “you’re in rock and roll class right now!” Though they don’t look like a punk band, the Loved Ones acquitted themselves well, both as musicians and performers, and I think they won over a lot of fans besides myself.

Murder By Death

The final opening act was Murder By Death, a rock band from Indiana. With a name like theirs, I was expecting a hardcore/thrash act, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out they were nothing like that. Unlike The Loved Ones, their sound is hard to classify. A 4-piece band with a guitarist/singer, bass player, drummer, and keyboard player/cellist, Murder By Death is part Johnny Cash, part punk, part rockabilly, part Doors. Or something like that, they’re tough to categorize. They acquitted themselves well, playing a songs in a number of different styles and putting on an entertaining set. I’m keen to check out their albums in the next few days.

The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem came out and broke right into “High & Lonesome”. They played most of the songs off of ‘The ’59 Sound’, a number off of ‘Sink or Swim’ and a couple off of ‘Senor and the Queen’, including a great version of “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts” during the encore. Other highlights included a version of “I’da Called You Woody, Joe”, which was preceded by part of “The Wanderer” by Dion (they used to play “Stand By Me” as the intro).

Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem

Gaslight are a great live show. The thing that stands out is just how much they seem to be enjoying themselves, Brian Fallon especially. This interview gives you a good feel for Fallon’s appreciation for music. You can hear it in the lyrics, which reference (and in some cases directly quote) artists such as Counting Crows and Bruce Springsteen.

After the show, Andy and I were talking about this – it’s refreshing to see someone who seems to enjoy being a rock star. It’s become trendy (probably starting with Kurt Cobain) to either pretend you resent or are indifferent to being a rock star, or in the case someone like Adam Duritz, to actually resent the accompaniments of fame and success. Seeing Brian Fallon’s enthusiasm is refreshing and totally invigorating. He has fun, and has a great time interacting with the crowd. Makes for an even better live show.

Brian Fallon

Also, besides being a great live show, their music kicks ass. It makes me want to quit my job and start a band.

Check them out; they’re my second Music Monday pick.

Here’s a video clip of them playing “Great Expectations” at the Edmonton show.

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Music Monday: Matthew Barber in Concert

You might not have heard of Matthew Barber, a singer-songwriter from Toronto. You might have heard of his more famous sister Jill; if you haven’t given her brother a listen, you are missing out.

I first heard Matthew Barber about 2 1/2 years ago. I saw him open for Chris Isaak at the Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton. Appearing solo on stage, just him and an acoustic guitar, he played a killer short set. I saw him at the Myer Horowitz Theatre last spring (while on tour with Jill) and he played another amazing show. He came to Edmonton on Friday, and I couldn’t miss another opportunity to see him.

Matthew Barber

Barber played the Haven Social Club on Stony Plain Road, an intimate venue with great acoustics. Playing solo, just him on electric guitar or keyboard, Barber delivered another great set.

He went through a number of songs from his most recent album, ‘Ghost Notes’, and mixed in a few of his older songs as well as covers of Hank Williams and Jill Barber. He’s also in the process of recording a new album, and played 2-3 songs off of the upcoming work, including one about hitting the open road that Andy and I agree will sound amazing with a full band.

Matthew Barber

Barber, a talented lyricist and musician, should be playing bigger venues than Haven, which must seat only 100-200 people. In time, he probably will. If you like the singer-songwriter style, give Matthew Barber a listen, especially his album ‘Ghost Notes’, and you won’t be disappointed. He’s the first of two music monday recommendations today.

I’ll be adding a few more photos from the show here.