Review: Brian Fallon & the Crowes at O2 ABC, Glasgow (06/04/16)

Words: Justin Hulford

I’m starting to enjoy this slightly downbeat venue and have had quite a few good shows here now so even a bit of traffic wasn’t going to dampen the spirits.

Fallon is best known for The Gaslight Anthem, an upbeat folk punk outfit who I have seen a number of times. For some reason they seem to have sort of fallen out with each other which I am guessing was really a few years back. Fallon put out a side project then called The Horrible Crowes, did more with Gaslight and now, with the main band on a hiatus, has appeared solo.

But a lot of The Horrible Crowes studio stuff sounded a lot like Gaslight. And a lot of his solo stuff now sounds like Gaslight. Perhaps both are calmed a notch or two but they are familiar.

This night was opened by one man and guitar, Jared Hart. I liked his gruff vocal that didn’t sit with his look and he was reminiscent of the softer parts from Chuck Ragan. He lacked the depth of growl that the latter has, so his songs did feel just a little samey, but nice enough.

Next came two piece Good Old War, just vocalist with acoustic guitarist doing plenty of vocals too. The singer was nerdy but had a nicely toned voice that belied his quasi awkward posing and together they delivered some excellent harmonies. I could have easily been listening to the Everly brothers and all that was really lacking was some stronger hooks in the songs. Again, nice enough.

Fallon then arrived with a six-piece band and as the start might have suggested, this was a sort of Gaslight Fallon Horrible Anthem Crowes sort of show. Pretty much everything sounded like a stripped back version of The Gaslight Anthem which did surprise me. I have heard their vibe in his other songs but didn’t expect it to come through so strongly in a live setting.

What it actually felt like was Gaslite Anthem (see what I did?) and was good for it. It allowed the richer tones to come through and his slightly purer vocal approach was excellent. There was great chemistry too between Fallon and one of the guitarists, who did a lot of singing too and looked a lot like Joey Barton!

That chemistry also existed with the crowd, Fallon thanking everyone for buying tickets before anything of his solo album had surfaced, and with no idea what sort of show might appear. The answer was a good solid one. This was superb rock without the anger and it really allowed the songs to just express themselves.

Fallon will sell out this sort of venue again and next time it will be because people know that this sort of set is on offer, rather than just taking a leap of faith based on reputation. He has it for a reason and really lived up to it. The show was short at ninety minutes and punchy, flying past in a blur and well worth the trip.

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