The Gaslight Anthem

support Frank Turner + Polar Bear Club
author PP date 18/02/09 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

The Gaslight Anthem's debut album "Sink Or Swim" was an underground punk sensation, hailed by many to be the best album of 2007 and a record that the scene needed to remind itself of the ton of reasons why music should be written from "devotion, not for fans, not for fame", to quote a little Fat Mike of NOFX here. Such a great record is hard to follow up on, but last year's "The '59 Sound" was entirely decent, but more importantly, it presented a slightly less rough edge to the band's music, effectively acting as a breakthrough album for the band that's now opening up for Bruce Springsteen around the world. Now consider all that together with the fact that the opening band tonight is Polar Bear Club, the band who released a similar masterpiece of a record last year, landing solid spots on a number of top10 lists across the web and traditional magazines alike. Needless to say, this was one of the most anticipated shows of 2009 in Denmark, and the nearly sold-out attendance at Lille Vega reflected that as well.

Polar Bear Club

The beginning of Polar Bear Club's set was once again plagued by the same illogical thinking that destroys about 90% of opening band shows in Denmark; the fact that they start playing half an hour before the 'show starting time' according to the physical tickets. But although playing in front of just a handful of people and lots of empty space, Polar Bear Club put on an energetic and passionate performance that could've been indescribably intense had the room been even half full at this point. Vocalist Jimmy Stadt seems to live through his songs as he performs them, jumping around the stage and slamming his hand hardly downward or against his chest in the rhythm of the semi-breakdowns or guitar rhythms. It's impossible not to enjoy the songs when they're delivered with as much conviction as here, even though three of the songs (including the opener) are brand new ones never heard by anyone in the public. Songs like "Our Ballads" and "Eat Dinner, Bury The Dog, And Run" sound massive even though Jimmy's "Wooah wooah" shouts aren't as warm and long as on the album, probably because he's out of breath from so much energetic movement on stage. But again, these are things only someone who has spent dozens and dozens of times listening to their record will ever notice. With a considerably bigger crowd present tonight, Polar Bear Club's performance would've easily been closer to a 9 than today's mere

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Frank Turner

I was honestly skeptical about Frank Turner before seeing him play, because based on my past experiences (Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly!), one man with an acoustic guitar and some semi-catchy melodies isn't particularly interesting to watch. I guess this is another lesson of don't judge the book by its cover, because the way Frank Turner transformed his acoustic guitar and throat into passionate stories that make the listener live the bad and the good moments through the music and the lyrics was brilliant. Here I'm talking about songs that anyone can relate to: for instance, he has a song about ripping rock star posters off walls, calling them just ordinary people like me and you, and another about getting wasted out of your mind on a weekend and having a hangover the next day after waking up somewhere strange. When he combined his stunning lyricisim with full blown yelling at relevant places, I have to say I was sold and I'd go see this guy again. And even if you didn't really listen to lyrics, he moved around as much as the microphone allowed him to, and the between songs-banter was mostly humorous - especially when he was given an ultra strong drink of JD and coke. But to end his part of the review on a low note, I have to say that only the songs that people could relate to through the lyrics captivated the audience. As soon as he sung about things only related to him, like the death of one of his friends, the connection between him and the audience was lost. Luckily, there weren't too many parts like these during his set.

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The Gaslight Anthem

There's something stereotypically American about The Gaslight Anthem. They sing about cadillacs, lincolns and good times with all the optimism that The American Dream promises its followers, and the way they appear on stage is taken straight from small-town America somewhere in the Midwest - this even though The Gaslight Anthem actually comes from New Jersey on the East Coast. Frontman Brian Fallon seems as earnest as singers come on stage, talking directly with the crowd, responding to what people are staying, and when he's playing, he's all smiles and looks like he absolutely fucking loves what he's doing. You can't blame him either, because the way people are moving to songs like "Great Expectatinos", "Old White Lincoln" or "The '59 Sound" in a place that's on the other side of the world from your home must be something special to the band. There aren't many people singing along to anything else than the singles, and generally the average age tonight is probably closer to 26 or 27 than the usual 19 at Danish punk rock shows, but this is probably because most people here tonight have just read on Gaffa that these guys sound like Bruce Springsteen and are great. Still, this has no effect on the great atmosphere present at the show tonight, thanks to Fallon's genuinely funny and friendly stage banter and the great setlist that combined most of the band's best songs from both records, even if one or two great ones were missing ("I Coul'da Been A Contender" anyone?).

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Setlist: (This one is from Cologne, Germany, but the band played largely the same songs in different order)

1. Great Expectations

2. The Patient Ferris Wheel

3. Old White Lincoln

4. Senor & The Queen

5. We Came to Dance

6. The '59 Sound

7. High Lonesome

8. Film Noir

9. I Would'a Called You Woody, Joe

10. Miles Davis and the Cool

11. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

12. State of Love and Trust

13. Here's Lookin' At Your Kid

14. Drive

15. Backseat

16. Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts

17. Boomboxes and Dictionaries

18. Say I Won't (Recognise)

19. Wooderson

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