The Gaslight Anthem / Matt Mays / Jared Hart – The Fillmore – Philadelphia, PA – 8/15/18

In the beginning of 2018 the biggest surprise happened, the Gaslight Anthem announced they would reunite and tour the world. However, this wasn’t to promote new music or that they will become a full time band again, it was to celebrate 10 years of The ’59 Sound. The band would play the album front to back along with additional songs. The album is not only important to the band, but most fans would agree that this is either their favorite album by Gaslight Anthem or their favorite album period. For Gaslight Anthem, this is the album that put them on the map and helped them gain more exposure.

When Gaslight Anthem went on indefinite hiatus, they said if they came back it would be for the right reasons and it would have to be fun again. One of the main reasons they left was because the band was going through the same cycles and being a band had lost its charm. For some, fans hoped this tour would put the wheels in motion for new music, but others, myself included, were happy that we get just one more tour.

For the last few dates of the tour including Philadelphia Jared Hart, from The Scandals and Brian Fallon’s solo band the Crowes, opened the show. Jared Hart and Brian have a long history and having fans see Jared outside the New Jersey shows was a treat. His set was fairly short, but he played the songs that the crowd knew of and gained the most sing alongs from “The Guillotine”, “The Leo”, and the Scandals’ “Lucky 7’s”. Even though the set was short fans that haven’t been able to see Jared Hart solo were excited that they finally got to see him live and hopefully there will be more tours for him in the future as a solo artist.

Following Jared Hart was the loud and electric sounds of Matt Mays. Matt & company ooze that southern indie rock look and sound, but don’t hail from the South and instread from Canada. Again, the band played a short set, but it was enough for the audience to know what Matt Mays was all about. Matt Mays has a fairly big discography, but for his setlist most of the songs were pulled from his latest releases Coyote and Once Upon A Hell Of A Time. Both albums are highly praised in Canada with Coyote recieving the best Rock Album of the Year from the Juno Awards. Even though Matt Mays was only on a few shows for this tour, the pair of them and Gaslight Anthem is a perfect, sonically, combination, and surprisingly this line up hasn’t happened before.

For many, The ’59 Sound is a beloved and perfect album. For most people it was the first exposure to the band and the start to an everlasting love for the band. The album is a pretty damn good album, but surprisingly it took months for it to click with me. I am usually good with years, but I can’t remember anymore, it had to be 2010 or maybe 2011 when I first heard this album. Record Store Day is a day to celebrate independent record stores and since its inception in 2008 I always made it a point to go to a few of them that day in April. I always made sure to go to my local record shops around Bethlehem, PA and then head down towards West Chester, PA to go to those record shops. Why that area? I graduated college in 2009 near West Chester and it was an excuse for me to go back to my favorite record shop and also get some of the best pizza in the world at Benny’s.

The record shop was located at the West Goshen Shopping Center, and was called West Goshen Book and Music Company. It had a great selection of books, an eatery, and a good selection of music. The music and movie section had shrunk over the years, but vinyl was starting to make a come back then. The store unforunately closed in 2013 and has become a LA Fitness, but I will always remember it as a great store. The reason I remember buying this album there was because each Record Store Day I made sure to buy an album of a band that I didn’t own, and never heard their music. I didn’t want to buy a record because if I didn’t like the album I usually gave it away and vinyl wasn’t as big yet, even though I was buying. This meant my format of choice was compact disc.

I went up and down the aisles looking for that one album until I saw the blue colored album with the band on the front. I looked at it and remember thinking, “I’ve heard about this band, their name keeps popping up on websites and things I read, they are on Side One Dummy which I like bands from there, I mind as well give it a try”. I don’t think they had other albums by them for sale, to which this was my only option. Mind you I haven’t heard one song by them at this point, this was a random buy. When I got home, which I still lived with my parents, I put the record on and listened all the way through. Once it finished I said to myself, that was good, not amazing, but good, I think I will keep it. I made room on my c.d. shelf and put the album in between The Hippos and The Graduate and went on with my day.

It is weird because as the days went on I kept going back to the album for some reason, which then I started dissecting the lyrics. It wasn’t until a few months that this album really hit me. I went through a big break up with my college girlfriend after I graduated and bands like the Ataris, the Early November, Moneen, and the Starting Line were my outlet to help me get through that time. Bands that I always relied on during times like that, you can say in the “pop-punk” relm. However, The ’59 Sound brought something different, it was more of an “adult” way of dealing with the loss. It is hard to explain, but instead of the pop punk lyrical stories I grew up listening to I was now transitioning to this more poetic and descriptive lyric intake. It was clear to me that Brian Fallon had a way of explaining things better than I could ever do.

Another thing I learned was that albums sometimes take time to digest, I’ve since seen this happen with me and other bands like Dashboard Confessional, the Menzingers, and The Slackers. I think sometimes music is like relationships, sometimes they come into your life at the right time or wrong time. In this case the Gaslight Anthem came to me at the right time in my life. Songs like “Casanova, Baby!” and “Meet Me By The River’s Edge” were songs that helped me get through that past relationship in a way not to be upset, but celebrate what once was. It was a different way of grieving and it completely opened my eyes to a new way of living so to speak. Just like many, The ’59 Sound was my gateway drug into the world of Gaslight Anthem. I would eventually buy every release, see them any chance I get, and also continuing dissecting the lyrics looking for those little hidden meanings. Being close to New Jersey, I just wish I caught their early shows because from pictures they looked like fun shows.

For these shows, the Gaslight Anthem gave fans a setlist to remember. If these were the last shows they played, they went out the best way. They started their set with “Handwritten” and then played three more songs from their albums before they broke into playing The ’59 Sound in full. Hearing these songs live again and having the crowd sing back every word was something to behold. Out of all the Gaslight Anthem shows I’ve seen this one is a top show, for the energy from the band and the crowd was at the highest. I could only imagine that every show was like this and the response from the fans had to bring the upmost joy to the band.

After The ’59 Sound they played another 9 songs spanning their discography. They definately pulled out all the stops and made sure that these shows are the best shows they’d ever played as a band. In typical Gaslight Anthem fashion, during “National Anthem” Matt Mays came out to sing along as did Jared Hart on “We’re Getting a Divorce, You Keep the Diner”. However, it was a highlight when they ended their set with “American Slang”. The crowd rumbled the ground with their feet stomping and the singing was the loudest it had been the whole night. Again, probably the best performance I’ve seen of the band. The future is uncertain for Gaslight Anthem, but if this is the last time we hear from for another 5 or 10 years, these shows were enough to keep me satisfied until then.