herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Review

OLYMPIA THEATRE

"If anyone's got a gem knocking around…" Brian Fallon there, always on the lookout for a hit. Fallon is keen to share a little songwriting history with us tonight.

Lest we forget, The Gaslight Anthem's good-humoured ringmaster is something of a musical nerd. Springsteen, U2, Oasis - Fallon runs through 'em all, breaking down greatest hits and their origins while the other lads tune up. Why?

Well, why not? He's pretty funny - if this music lark doesn't work out, the guy could have a future in stand-up comedy.

Unfashionably rusty rock 'n' roll, straight out of New Jersey, TGA is that band your eldest brother's been banging on about for yonks. The one that Springsteen loves (no, really). Fallon is probably blue in the face recalling the time that he and his chums played with the Boss at Hyde Park, but hey, it's what got our attention in the first place.

Seven years on, and five albums in, and TGA have sold out the Olympia. Fallon (35) may crack jokes about the group's popularity in between frequent bouts of raspy, full-throated bellowing, but the truth is, they're doing just fine.

They're a funny-looking band - the bassist dresses like a moody synth rocker; their drummer, a beach-ready surfer dude.

TGA keep their foot on the gas for most of this two-hour set - it's a wise move. There's a steady cover of Wish You Were Here in the mix, but their weaknesses show whenever the pace slows down.

Yep, theirs is a muscular, punk-heavy songbook, best kept loud and fast. A little more swagger in Fallon's step might be nice, but he's still the kind of guy you'd love to have a beer with.

Musically, TGA aren't reinventing the wheel, but boy, are they good, zipping through howlin' funeral marches (The '59 Sound), euphoric, arena-sized riffs (45, Old White Lincoln), fractured American dreams and melodic, garage-rock twists (Great Expectations, Handwritten).

Born out of time? Sure. But judging by the permanent smile on Fallon's face, he and the boys are more than happy with their lot. HHHHI

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