The Gaslight Anthem, Jimmy Eat World, and Against Me!, all three bands on one bill sounds like a fantasy tour. Yet, it actually happened, but unfortunately it was only a few dates on the East Coast with this lineup. The Mann Center at the Skyline Stage in Philadelphia was one of the lucky stops, and a hometown Phillies game didn’t stop fans of any of the bands from seeing this incredible night.
Opening the show was the ever stunning Against Me! Having a short set, the band busted through some of their fan favorites like “Pints of Guinness Make You Stronger” and “Don’t Lose Touch”. I was glad that they played about four songs from Transgender Dysphoria Blues. That album came out in the beginning of the year and I still have it spinning, each song is just raw and honest. If you aren’t familiar with Against Me!, which there still might be some people, start with that album first. Laura and company sounded great as always, pay attention to bassist Inge, his stage presence is not to be missed. As much I love seeing Against Me! playing on a bigger stage, I do enjoy them in a smaller setting. Their music has too much energy and emotion that in a smaller venue, the place seems like it is about to explode because of how much energy the crowd and the band are giving off. However, after this little run with this line up, Against Me! will carry on the tour with The Gaslight Anthem and I can bet they will continue to play unblemished every night.
Continuing the night was Jimmy Eat World. Having about to embark on their Futures tour, these shows are a good way for Jimmy Eat World to get ready for a full tour. At this point, Jimmy Eat World has so many songs, I don’t know how they pick a set list, but for this show they stuck with the hits. Which isn’t a bad thing because any Jimmy Eat World song live is a good Jimmy Eat World song. During their set, Jim Adkins was very talkative and jokingly between songs. Mentioning how the night before he went to the Union Transfer in Philadelphia to see Mineral and commented on how it is beautiful here weather wise. Arizona was terrible when he left. However, he didn’t mention who was filling in for Tom Linton. Before breaking into the song “Work”, there was a few seconds of the band playing “Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson, which actually I wouldn’t mind hearing them cover. As I said, the hits were played including “23” which no matter how many times I see it live, I still get chills. The build up and Jim’s singing on that song live gives the song a whole new life. The Futures tour will be in my area and I hope to see it. I am hoping the production for that tour is breathtaking especially during that song. Who am I kidding though, Jimmy Eat World always has amazing production and lighting for their shows.
Before The Gaslight Anthem played, Brian mentioned that Benny Horowitz will not be playing tonight because he had a family emergency, but Atom Willard of Against Me! will be filling in on drums. He also mentioned that the night was going to be filled with surprises. This turned into, by far, my favorite Gaslight Anthem show. I have only seen The Gaslight Anthem four times, three times photographed, and ironically I have only seen them play outside.
Before I go into the show, I wanted to say, each time I have seen The Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon gets happier and happier and happier. I’ve seen them transform into a monster of a band, which I believe will eventually make them unstoppable. Get Hurt, their new album, is their testament to that. As always there is backlash from fans on their new album, I’ve seen this happen with every band I listen to. Sometimes it breaks the band, but for The Gaslight Anthem, they keep going strong. I think it fuels the fire. Personally for me, Get Hurt is their best sounding album to date. It is their The Colour and the Shape. It is a bi-polar album as I like to call it, meaning it goes from one mood to another. Usually, these albums become my favorite albums, which is happening right now. When Handwritten came out I wasn’t the biggest fan of it, but the more time I spent with it, the more it grew on me. That usually happens with each of Gaslight Anthem’s albums. There is a lot going on in their songs and takes more than one listen to understand it. So why do I mention this, because each time I see The Gaslight Anthem perform, and I see Brian happier and happier, I think it shows they are getting closer and closer to who they want to be.
Opening the set with “Stay Vicious” showed that The Gaslight Anthem were going to go all out tonight. I think I even heard Brian say to Alex Rosamilia, “I’m back” or “we’re back”. Even though Benny wasn’t behind the set, Atom picked up very nicely with the short amount time he had to learn the songs. Also I will say that this is the first time I’ve seen The Gaslight Anthem use any sort of production in their set, the lights really made the show. As always, Brian gave the crowd insight into songs before playing them like about how “Howl” is about never giving up, and how they haven’t played “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” in about two years. Which they went on to play, but made it bluesier than the recording and dragging it out longer. Definitely a version they should add into their setlist. After playing “The House of the Rising Sun”, Brian informed the crowd that Atom only knew a dozen songs and the rest of the night would be acoustic. I think the crowd had mixed emotions, but for this fan, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Starting the set with new songs “Dark Places” and iTunes bonus song “Have Mercy”, these songs showcased the true emotion in an acoustic setting. Even though as a photographer you should only photograph the first three songs, I had to get some shots of this set. In between songs, Brian talked about his love for Philadelphia and playing the Trocadero. A venue I would love to see them play in even if it was all acoustic. Closing the night with “High Lonesome”, “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts”, and “1930”, Brian apologized for the circumstance they were in and hoped everyone enjoyed this setting. However, he ended the night with saying that they will be back in Philadelphia soon enough, and everyone should be ready for it to be loud. I can only hope it will be very soon.