Last Friday night, The Gaslight Anthem brought the 2015 leg of their Get Hurt US tour to Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island. Given that no Boston date appears on this leg, the occasion called for an obscenely long rush-hour drive to The Ocean State on yet another bone-jarringly cold Friday evening in the winter that just won’t end. Yours truly hadn’t been to Lupo’s since it moved from a smaller location elsewhere in Providence damn near a decade ago. The “new” location occupies what used to be the Strand Theater, a hundred-year-old former vaudeville theater that probably hasn’t been architecturally updated a hell of a lot since it first opened (some cool old information here). Much like the city it inhabits, it’s more than a tad rough around the edges, and yet more than a little bit charming (not at all unlike Philadelphia’s Trocadero in both style and context).
Bayonne, New Jersey, street punks The Scandals got the night kicked off in raucous fashion. Perhaps it was the cold, perhaps it was the 8:30 start time, but the crowd (capacity somewhere between 1200 and 1500 depending on where you get your information, though with Lupo’s well-known penchant for over-selling tickets–seriously, check their Yelp! reviews– it’s probably close to the latter) was fairly well filled in by the time the foursome took the stage. Frontman Jared Hart led the attack, blistering through the band’s thirty-minute set in twenty-eight minutes (according to my watch). Jersey and Rhode Island aren’t obscenely far away form one another, meaning that a decent portion of the crowd was familiar with the band’s music and shouted along accordingly. Those unfamiliar also seemed pleased; more than a few near-by concertgoers commented on how the band’s newer tracks “kinda sounded like old Gaslight.” Huh…wonder why.
Northcote followed in full-band fashion. I’d previously only seen Matt Goud as a solo acoustic opener on Dave Hause’s Devour America tour this time last year. In my opinion, it’s not possible to blow Dave Hause off the stage, but I came away from that night thinking that Western Canada’s Goud came as close as possible. He traded the acoustic for a Telecaster for most of the set and was accompanied by a traditional guitar-bass-drum lineup that provided some added punch to Goud’s already exuberant stage presence. “How Can You Turn Around,” off the self-titled Northcote full-length, was a particular highlight, though that may be because it’s one of my favorite songs at the moment.
The Gaslight Anthem took the stage at around 10:30pm. This particular night marked the second night of this month-long jaunt, and was sandwiched curiously between two New York dates (one at the Webster Theatre, one at Terminal 5). TGA frontman Brian Fallon sauntered on stage looking perhaps a little worse for the wear after what may have been a hard and heavy night number one. In fact, he started with his typical between-song banter early, commenting on how he liked the venue and that Providence was cold that day and that he’d just woken up before leading the band into set-opener “The ’59 Sound.” What followed was a two-ish hour jaunt through the band’s almost decade-old catalog. Sure Get Hurt was well represented (not only by the giant upside-down heart set backdrop that filled what had seemed like a cavernous stage area) but by a handful of tracks ranging from the sing-along chorus of “1,000 Years” to the slow burn of bonus track “Sweet Morphine.”
Slow burn was a recurring theme on the evening. A fair amount the set seemed to be down a few beats-per-minute from the standard tempo. Perhaps that’s by design. The slightly, maybe-not-even-noticeable, slower tempos allowed the band to pace themselves as they stretched out a set to more than two dozen songs. There are many, perhaps even within the band’s circle, who view the The Gaslight Anthem as the heirs apparent to the throne of Next Big American Rock Band that Pearl Jam picked up from Springsteen a couple decades earlier. While the uptempo punk-tinged “hits” from throughout their catalog breathe fire into the set and work the audience into a crowd-surfing frenzy, the standard down-tempo songs (“She Loves You,” “Red At Night,” slowed down versions of “Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?” and “Great Expectations”) allowed the music itself to breathe a little bit; for Alex Rosamilia’s guitar runs to weave their way into the atmosphere while still being rooted to the earth by the more rhythmic guitar stylings of Fallon and Ian Perkins. Check out the full setlist here, and check out our photo gallery of all three bands below.
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