- 20 Mar 18
Picture the scene, gentle reader. It's the final night of erstwhile Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon's European tour. The room is packed with punters all eager to see the musician sign off a successful stint on the road in style and Hot Press is hopeful for a little bit of magic to brighten up an otherwise dreary Belfast night. As Fallon shuffles onstage, he mumbles a joke about playing a wedding, then proceeds to run through a reworked, rather laborious rendition of the aptly named new track 'Sleepwalkers', which opens proceedings with a whimper when we really wanted a bang. It's then that we begin to wonder if the much loved“blue collar rocker” has run out of tricks. To quote the man himself “We had the greatest expectations.”
Business picks up considerably shortly afterwards though thanks to the one-two punch of the buoyant 'A Wonderful Life' and the shimmying 'Forget Me Not' (which, despite being a new song, is greeted as an old friend as the Limelight scream back the “STACY” hook with gusto). The Clash-infused 'Come Wander With Me' keeps things on track thanks to a satisfyingly beefy guitar sound, but it's only for a brief moment as another peculiar set-list choice sees the show come off the rails once again. This time it's a cover of Tom Waits' 'Cold Cold Ground' that strays too far into the realms of “self indulgent karaoke performance” for this scribe. Seemingly shoe-horned into the set to show off Fallon's new-found keyboard-skills, it's slightly irksome that some songs from Brian's brace of solo albums (plus material from his still stunning side project the Horrible Crowes) have been shunned in favour of it.
Speaking of the Horrible Crowes, while their best tracks ('Cherry Blossoms,' 'Behold The Hurricane') are sadly absent, it's good to hear an airing of both the suitably sweet 'Crush' and the salacious 'Sugar.' The cowpunk minded 'Red Lights' is another highlight and Fallon, in general, is in fine fettle and clearly bemused by the number of females in the crowd desperate to catch his attention. In fact at one point during 'Painkillers' it felt like Hot Press had unwittingly stumbled onto an episode of Take Me Out (and yes, we may be a wee bit envious).