You should be proud, New Jersey. Your garden state is more than reality TV show guidos and guidettes, big hair, fist-pumping and GTL (gym, tan, laundry). You guys know how to rock. New Jersey has spawned legendary rock bands like Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.
Oh, and the Gaslight Anthem, heavily influenced by Springsteen (much has been made of how they performed with "The Boss"). This hyped act could very well join the ranks of their predecessors if they play their cards right.
The N.J. band cruised into Tempe's Marquee Theatre last night and played an ignited set fueled with gritty rock and elements of punk, covering a span of music from their last three discs.
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The tattooed quartet took the stage a little after 9 p.m. dressed in plain tees and blue jeans. The group's 20-plus track list kept the packed crowd (the show was not sold-out, but they drew well given their lack of radio play in Phoenix) engaged and energized during their 90-minute set. Not surprisingly, they chose to open with "American Slang," the first track off their recently released third album of the same name. Charming singer Brian Fallon wailed through memorable lyrics like 'And they cut me to ribbons and taught me to drive/I got your name tattooed inside of my arm.'
They kept the momentum going strong with songs like "Old White Lincoln," "The '59 Sound," "Film Noir," "Miles Davis Cool," "Bring It On," "Casanova, Baby!," "The Diamond Church Street Choir" and "Boxer," my new favorite off American Slang. Their encore included a handful of songs before they closed the night with "The Backseat." The group also squeezed in an awesome cover of Lucero's "The War," which featured Avail front man-turned-soloist Tim Barry, who opened the show earlier in the night.
The Gaslight Anthem did an amazing job of bringing their blue collar poetry to life. While their discs are polished and tight, they're at their greatest live and left us wanting more. I predict they'll be headlining arena-sized shows in the next few years.
Last Night: The Gaslight Anthem at Marquee Theatre
Better Than: Their sold-out show at Scottsdale's Martini Ranch last year.
Personal Bias: In case you couldn't tell, I love The Gaslight Anthem. I fell in love with the band's sound after discovering their sophomore album The '59 Sound. My cousin is friends with Benny Horowitz, the band's drummer. They both attended Rutgers University in New Jersey and worked on the school's newspaper staff.
One More Thing: With the help of a couple martinis at dinner pre-concert, my friend Steph and I were the band's unofficial dancers of the night. Seriously. We were dancing machines. You're welcome, Marquee Theatre.