The Gaslight Anthem
Jersey rockers light up the Ulster Hall with bone-shaking anthems
Midway through this gig at the Ulster Hall The Gaslight Anthem's lead singer, Brian Fallon, who is in Belfast for the first time, asks if he can move in with one of us, so taken is he with the city. Perhaps he would have gotten away with such a friendly conceit had he not suggested that the audience, predominantly male, were all very attractive.
Clearly none of this matters to the crowd, most of whom are eager to get back to the moving and shaking, the breakneck pace of which owes everything to Benny Horowitz's smart drumming.
After a lively first half, which sees the band play staples like 'Drive' and 'American Slang', the Anthem's set becomes tedious, with each song - for the uninitiated, at least - almost indistinguishable from the next. But there are few present who aren't able to sing along. Chants of 'OIe Ole Ole!' fill the vacuum when the band down tools at the end. And while it takes Fallon and Co longer than usual to retake the stage, they swiftly return when the stamping begins.
Fair play to them, as they appeared fatigued throughout. At one point Fallon tells the audience they have been on the road for six months straight. In hindsight this makes his earlier acrobatics all the more praiseworthy.
Despite their evident weariness, The Gaslight Anthem don't miss a beat. Their performance is tight, and Fallon's practice of rubbing his face with joy and amazement at the response he receives from the crowd betrays his tattoo-ed, skull-and-crossbones image. Between songs he talks of going back home to see his mother and his friend's new child. This is rock and roll without the sex and drugs. But perhaps that's what make The Gaslight Anthem so appealing.
What fans of this Jersey export like the most is the anthemic quality of their music, the central tenet of which is the celebration of nostalgia and youth in the face of time passing on. Those at the Ulster Hall will hope that little time passes before Fallon gets a chance to live up to his promise and return to this 'cool little city'.