Gaslight Anthem, Frank Turner
Frank Turner quietly takes to the stage of a sold out Academy in Dublin with his guitar and powerful voice for company. The former Million Dead singer has been carving out a solo career with some magnificent folk records filled with honesty, attitude and passion. From the beginning of his opening song 'I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous' it seems every eye in the building is trained on the stage.
Turner has his fair share of fans at the gig with regular shouts from the crowd for perhaps his most famous songs, 'Reasons Not To Be An Idiot' and 'Photosynthesis'. Those songs are reserved for later in the set when the venue has filled up and by which time Turner has really caused a stir in the hall, even taking time to include a decent cover of 'Thunder Road'.
Before then his natural warmth endears him to the crowd, taking time to explain in conversation and through song how he went from punk to folk and chastising the venue for taking a significant cut of the money from the merchandise.
It's the last night of the European tour and he brings The Gaslight Anthem on to the stage to present them with some chocolates and a shot of Jamesons. We all feel part of the party and get the feeling that Turner's success will grow very quickly. A sold-out gig in Auntie Annies two days later certainly seems to testify to this.
The Gaslight Athem's most recent album, The 59 Sound, was one of the finest albums of last year. This is an album that grabbed the attention on the first listen and has lost none of its impact since. Their music is vital and life-affirming, a brilliant brand of honest rock'n'roll music. Expectation is high for this gig, their debut Irish performance.
Any band that comes onstage to Tom Waits' 'Anywhere I Lay My Head' gets bonus points from me and they then proceeded to set out their stall by opening their set with 'Great Expectations'. What followed was a relentless 80-minute set that served as a reminder of just how good live music can be.
The New Jersey band sound like a cross between Springsteen and American punk and exude real depth. Brian Fallon is an engaging frontman with lyrics about things people really care about. He tells stories about his mother and father, his home, ex-girlfriends and can barely contain his grin throughout the show.
The set is heavily weighted toward the new album but also included tracks from 'Sink Or Swim' and 'Senor and the Queen' which are greeted with delight from the audience. The audience itself illustrated the broad appeal of the audience, ranging from young punks to girls in their late teens and men in their thirties and forties.
Fallon's voice itself is a powerful instrument, showcased to fine effect with snatches of 'It's A Man's World' and 'Stand By Me' and leaves you hanging on every word that leaves his mouth. Songs like 'Here's Looking At You, Kid' show a possible direction that the band may take in later years if they ever decide to take a quieter approach.
The band seem pleased with their lot, leaping into the air on occasion and saying its a great finale to the tour. They close their set with 'Casanova, Baby' a song that leaves us wanting to dance into the night.
"I don't know what town he lives in, but if you see Van Morrison tell him I'm looking for him", says Brian Fallon when talking about how happy he is with his first Irish gig. Let's hope they decide to come looking round Belfast direction next time they're in the country - we'd certainly be glad to have them.