Brian Fallon & The Crowes
Thursday, February 18th
Ace of Spades; Sacramento, CA
Review by Bryce Hoffman
From the early days of The Gaslight Anthem, to his various
side projects, Brian Fallon and the musicians he surrounds himself with have
always managed to give respectful nods to the classics, while adding in their
own attitude and style to the mix. While we still have to wait a few weeks for
his solo album, the singles he has released have proved that not much has
changed in that regard.
To say I was excited for his set last week in Sacramento is
a dramatic understatement. Like many
others, I was introduced to The Gaslight Anthem through the success of their
debut single “The ’59 Sound”, from their sophomore album of the same name, back
in the summer of 2008. While they’ve toured and come close to my area in the
past, I hadn’t been able to catch them. This was my first time seeing any
semblance of The Gaslight Anthem/Molly and The Zombies/The Horrible Crowes, and
it was well worth the wait.
Opening the set with the piano and organ-heavy, vocally
driven “Last Rites,” taken from his work with Ian Perkins as The Horrible
Crowes, Brian and his phenomenally talented band set the tone for the rest of
the night. Immediately following the closing notes, they jumped right in to
“Red Lights,” an upbeat song with an incredibly infectious hook that Brian
originally wrote for his side project Molly and The Zombies years prior. It
became evident very quickly that not only was the band as a whole exceptionally
talented as musicians, but they also seemed to be having a genuinely good time.
It was easy to see how much they enjoyed the songs they were performing and
they fed off each other’s energy, which only enhanced the experience for those
of us in attendance.
Brian Fallon’s set overall was a fantastic mix of songs from
The Horrible Crowes, Molly and The Zombies, as well as a handful of select
songs from his debut solo record Painkillers, out next month (March 11 via Island Records). It was great getting to hear some of those songs, like “Among
Other Foolish Things” for the first time, in anticipation of the new album. The
night ebbed and flowed nicely, with energetic, groovy songs (”Go Tell Everybody,”
“A Wonderful Life,” “Mary Ann”) balanced perfectly alongside more somber, stripped
down performances (”Sugar,” “Honey Magnolia”). Brian kept the energy up even
between the more intimate moments, often joking and sharing stories and
observations. The flow of songs was perfect, and my only complaint is based off
of my own selfish desires to have the set last another hour.
Brian Fallon is an important artist, and one that is absolutely
worth noticing. His writing has always been raw and uniquely his; there hasn’t
been any niche or act within the lyrics or musicality of his art, and it’s
evident that the songs he write come directly from his own experiences. While
some bands or artists may fade with the ever-changing tides of music, I feel
confident saying that the majority of music he has written will absolutely
stand the test of time, and his live set is no exception.