Brian Fallon’s annual three night holiday/end of the year shows happened once again at Crossroads in Garwood, NJ. You have to be quick in snagging tickets for these since they sell out very quick. These are intimate shows where songs are stripped down and given back stories. Don’t expect long set lists, expect personal stories, a few jokes, and sometimes one on one conversations with Brian in front of the audience. As always, each night has a different opener and for this night, it was Plow United’s Brian McGee. While I was growing up in the Lehigh Valley, PA and then attending college near West Chester, PA, Plow United was/is a band you knew of and if you didn’t you were educated soon enough. In vain of bands like Digger and Weston, Plow United was a band you were proud to listen to if you were from said area. However, Brian wasn’t there to play only Plow United material, but his own solo material. Brian’s material is more geared towards the Bob Dylan and Billy Bragg sound, but the energy of Plow United is still there. Brian’s set was light hearted and comical. Yet his music brought out the seriousness including his latest song “Act With Love”, a song to benefit the Syrian Children Relief Fund. Brian plans to have a new album shortly, but until then check out his previous work and if you don’t know Plow United, educate yourself.
Brian Fallon is a true and honest musician and these shows prove that. Coming to the stage Brian gives full disclosure that he is a little under the weather, but you paid and had to rearrange your life to be here so he is going to give as much of 100% as he can before his voice goes. Everyone in attendance was greatful for his sacrifice, but also because they get to hear about their favorite songs on a more personal level. Brian Fallon may keep some thoughts and secrets to himself, but for anyone listening at his shows, he is seems very transparent and willing to share how a song like “Stray Paper” came to be. Brian started the night off with “Honey Magnolia” and right away the audience lent their voice for him. Since this was a solo show it was a surprise to hear Gaslight Anthem songs, but Brian played two unlikely ones, “Stray Paper” and “Boxer”. Brian explained the background on “Stray Paper” and how he had a telephone conversation with the late/great Sharon Jones for her collaboration on the song. Brian was getting a little choked up over the story, or maybe it was his sickness, but remembering someone like Sharon would make you choked up. The rest of the night Brian played mostly his solo material and conversed with the audience. Notable was to a female fan with her husband. She explained how he is better than her husband, but Brian jokingly explained that his music only shows half his life and being with him isn’t all roses and birds. It’s him writing music and doubting his career, his musicianship, and never writing a “Wonderwall”, to the point where anyone would go crazy being with him. See second to last photo. However, this is what makes Brian have loyal/die hard fans. His personality, take on life, and his ability to be open and honest with fans. Music listeners can tell when a musician is being real, and Brian is one of those rare kinds. More musicians should take note, and Brian, don’t worry, you’ll write your “Wonderwall” someday.