I don’t know what it is like to play a hometown show, then again I would need a band first to play a hometown show, but I could imagine it is probably the most exciting yet nervous feeling in the world. All your friends, family, and probably past lives are all in the room and you are there front and center with nowhere to hide. It’s a big deal and for Brian Fallon, he managed to play with ease to a sold out crowd for a secret hometown show in Red Bank, NJ at the beautiful Count Baise Theatre.
The stage was set with acoustic guitars, but also a piano was present which was different for Brian’s usual solo shows. Prior to this show, no one was sure what exactly Brian had in store. With the recent announcement of Gaslight Anthem playing a few shows this year, anything was possible. There was no Gaslight Anthem reunion in Red Bank on stage though, but fans in attendance were treated to a different and very intimate side of Brian. Opening the night Brian played a piano driven rendition of “The ’59 Sound”, which would sent chills down your spine. A different take on such an electric song that it should be released on a 7 inch or as a bonus song to maybe a 10 year anniversary release of The ’59 Sound. HINT HINT Side One Dummy Records. From the piano, Brian moved onto the acoustic guitar to play “Red Lights” and “Rosemary” from Painkillers.
Breaking out for the first time in New Jersey was his newest song “If Your Prayers Don’t Get To Heaven” from his forthcoming album Sleepwalkers due out February 9th. When Brian first started his solo career, I remember him stating that he was afraid fans would come to the show and not sing along since the album wasn’t out yet. Didn’t seem like they had a problem then and they don’t seem to have a problem now knowing all the words to a yet released album. Before the next song, Brian warned the crowd that he will be playing a Bruce Springsteen song, but not one everyone plays. You can hear that one from that local cover band down the street. Instead Brian settled for “Spirit In The Night” and even though it wasn’t “Atlantic City” or “Dancing In The Dark”, the crowd was very pleased to hear something different with their voices singing high and loud.
Following the wonderful Bruce cover, Brian would head back to the piano to perform the song “Painkillers”, and again giving the song a completely new life. Wouldn’t be a bad thing to have these piano versions released. Midway through the set, two Gaslight Anthem songs made an appearance. Two songs that have been played by Brian on other solo shows, but with the latest Gaslight Anthem news, these songs just made the nostalgia heavier. “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts” and “The Navesink Banks” two older songs that still hold up 10 plus years later. After “The Navesink Banks”, excitingly Brian talked about the harmonies at the end of the song and the difficulties. He used the piano, in music teacher fashion, to show the crowd how the pitch should go and even had the crowd try it. For that moment I felt like I was in music class back in grade school, except Brian had more enthusiasm in teaching us how to reach your true vocal potential.
What’s a hometown show without a special guest? The second to last song, music photographer Danny Clinch lent his harmonica talent to a Neil Young cover, “Heart Of Gold.” Danny also lent his photography talent when Brian posed with his guitar in true rockstar fashion in a jokingly manner. Brian end his set with the uplifting song, “A Wonderful Life”, which had the entire crowd singing back up vocals, but he was done. Coming back on stage for two more songs, Brian debuted live “See You On The Other Side” from Sleepwalkers and then ended the show with the first single, “Forget Me Not” on the piano.
Even though the show was general admission I decided to sit in the back of the theatre in the seating area. The view was terrible, but in the dark listening to these songs in an acoustic rendition brought a peaceful and calming mindset. Brian Fallon is an artist that a lot of people attract to, let it be because of his music, lyrics, or his witty banter, however some guy at this show wasn’t pleased with his talking, fans connect with him. At this show it comes perfectly clear, Brian Fallon is just a guy, he connects with people because he is not glits and glamour, he is as real as anyone else. People relate to that, especially his fans, they are smart people and can see through the fake, and fake isn’t Brian. To that one guy, maybe Brian talks a lot because he doesn’t see us as fans, but friends that he has so much to tell us. He pulls the crowd in by being himself, and knows he isn’t higher than anyone else in room, but sees us as equals. Again, I am writing this purely as an observer and not someone that knows him, which I don’t, I could be completely wrong about how he sees things. Yet, this hometown show showed us Brian enjoys playing music and still excited about it as the years go on. Red Bank should be proud.