With their new record, Handwritten, The Gaslight Anthem appeared to have moved away from their punk roots to a stadium filling, more accessible sound. However, with a skull and cross bones logo proudly hanging over the stage and the flag of St Pauli draped over their amp, it suggests they weren’t totally content to leave their roots behind them. It was a handful of sophomore album, The ’59 Sound, that provided the main ingredients for their set, but doses of American Slang and Handwritten, showed their potential for an open air rock sound.
Opener “Great Expectations” was the perfect introduction to their back catalogue, whilst “Old White Lincoln”, made for a perfect lazy Sunday afternoon in the sunshine. New songs “Mulholland Drive” and “Here Comes My Man” were more set filling than enjoyable, whilst “45” got the crowd grooving in the sunshine to a radio friendly hit. “American Slang” provided the bar between the blue collar punk of their first two albums and the E Street stadium rock of Handwritten. But it was anthems such as “The ’59 Sound” and “The Backseat” that had the crowd at their most energetic.
On this evidence, The Gaslight Anthem are still a way away from being a stadium filling main stage rock band and seem more comfortable at home in a tent, where their rough punk attitude fits perfectly. Siobhan Gallagher