I first heard “The ‘59 Sound” on an HP laptop computer, through Apple earbuds, streaming from New Jersey upstarts The Gaslight Anthem’s MySpace page in July 2008.
For any young fan, the impression that a piece of music leaves can feel like a hot iron imprinting itself into our skin. That is, if the stars are aligned, so to speak. Until this point, The Gaslight Anthem was rapidly building buzz among punk rock circles, on blogs and message boards and in bars and basements. With one full-length album and one EP behind them, the band signed with indie label SideOneDummy to release a follow-up to continually growing anticipation.
When The Gaslight Anthem released the title track to The ‘59 Sound that July, it felt like serendipity. Here is a young band absolutely bursting with potential that very well appears to be exceeding every expectation. (I vividly remember feeling very 17 years old and absolutely floored by the confidence, power, and conviction to a singular vision that “The ’59 Sound demonstrated.) One month later, The 59 Sound was released on August, 19, 2008, jettisoning The Gaslight Anthem to near-ubiquity among rock music fans of most kinds and cementing an impact in contemporary punk rock. Many regard it as a minor rock and roll masterpiece.
Which, of course, brings us to last Wednesday, August 15, 2018. A near 10 years since the release of The 59 Sound, at a sold-out FIllmore (a Philadelphia venue that did not exist in 2008), a stop on The Gaslight Anthem’s ‘59 Sound 10-year anniversary tour.
There’s a deep comfort to be found in an album anniversary show, at least when executed right. The Gaslight Anthem appears to understand this, as historically chatty frontman Brian Fallon remained uncharacteristically stoic from the moment the band walked onstage. Performing four selected cuts from the band’s five-LP discography, Fallon and company used this opportunity to flex their muscles before, with zero fanfare or conversation, launching directly into ‘59 Sound opener “Great Expectations”. For Gaslight fans, that track’s opening guitar riff and Fallon’s belting of “Mary, this station is playing every sad song” kicks out a near-Pavlovian response, like we just know shit is about to pop off for real now.
And it did. For those who have studied every note of The ‘59 Sound to the drum fill, the album show-format recontextualizes the pace and rhythm of the entire recorded album. Gaslight’s commitment to just simply playing the songs uninterrupted only aided this near metatextual interpretation of an LP. It shows a respect to the material and to the audience by playing through 12 songs just as we would when hitting the play button, while emphasizing The ‘59 Sound’s near-perfect track sequence.
The interplay of barnburners like the title track, “High Lonesome,” and “Meet Me By the River’s Edge” among more soul-influenced tracks like “Miles Davis and the Cool” and “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues,” and outlying pop experiments (“Old White Lincoln”) paces this album in a way that nearly anyone can find what they want out of it.
After an additional eight or so songs before wrapping the night with fan favorite “American Slang,” I feel empowered to speak for other major fans in that The Gaslight Anthem took Wednesday night’s sold-out Fillmore on a much-deserved victory lap with them. I couldn’t help but feel vindicated to hear something that pulled the floor out from under me 10 years ago performed to a maximum capacity room, a decade later, and to know I was far from the only one to feel this way.
Below, check out photos from The Gaslight Anthem’s set at the Fillmore, along with opener Matt Mays.
The ’59 Sound
Old White Lincoln
Miles Davis and the Cool
The Patient Ferris Wheel
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Meet Me by the River’s Edge
Here’s Looking at You, Kid
Boomboxes and Dictionaries
The Diamond Church Street Choir
Underneath the Ground
The Queen of Lower Chelsea
We’re Getting a Divorce, You Keep the Diner
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