Monday, 22 December 2014

Recent Gigs Part One: The Gaslight Anthem / The Subhumans

Gigs have been a bit thin on the ground for me this year. I wanted to see a few bands back in the Summer that I didn't get to, like Arcade Fire and Pixies, but now it's "touring season" again I've managed to get out and catch some groups. Back in November I went down to Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena to see New Jersey's 2nd favourite sons ( after the E Street Band, of course ), The Gaslight Anthem. I'd first seen them supporting Springsteen ( who else? ) at Hyde Park back in 2009 and was knocked out by their energy and great songs. I've since bought all but one of their albums ( their debut, which seems hard to find ) and have become a big fan of their blue-collar rock. I actually had a ticket to see them in Bristol last year but was too ill to go after just finishing my radiotherapy
( bugger! ) so I was determined not to miss them this time.
After the usual fun and games getting into Cardiff  -  non-existent roadsigns, roadworks, closed off streets  -  I managed to park near the venue, and headed for the local Spudulike ( didn't know they still existed! ) for some retro food. Only in Wales. I got into the arena just before the end of support band Deer Tick's set; they seemed quite a decent American indie band with surprisingly traditional Rock 'n' Roll leanings, but nothing too memorable. The Gaslight Anthem came on stage and started with the low-key, subdued Have Mercy, frontman Brian Fallon enveloped in purple light... and then ripped into a speedy version of The '59 Sound, driving the crowd wild. It's my favourite of their songs and I was surprised it wasn't held back for an encore, but then the band have amassed enough, er, anthems to comfortably fill out their set.
TGA ( as nobody calls them ) were very tight and enthusiastic, smoothly switching between their more punk-y early stuff and the more recent material from Get Hurt which is both heavier ( Stay Vicious ) and more sophisticated ( the title track ). Clearly enjoying himself, Fallon told the audience that he's a huge fan of Noel Fielding, the Mighty Boosh star who was playing in another venue in Cardiff that night. He went on to encourage us all to Tweet Fielding and suggest we all head over there to watch his set  -  all 7000 of us. Strangely enough that didn't happen...
...even though the audience were eating out of Fallon's hand and would probably have followed him anywhere. Indeed, they all seemed very passionate fans of the band and made me feel a bit of a fraud as I tried to sing along and realised I didn't actually know the lyrics that well :-)  A girl next to me in the crowd danced continually throughout the set and knew every word to every song. In fact, it was quite cool to see how many women were there, both in couples and groups, making a change from the usually male-dominated rock audience.
The band finished their epic, 28-song show with a storming version of The Backseat and then were gone, with no encore  -  which was slightly disappointing, but they had dropped a cover of Dinosaur Jr's Feel The Pain into the set which was very welcome, so I'll let them off. I fought my way out of the venue and headed for home but, feeling knackered, stopped at a service station and fell asleep in my car (!) and didn't get home until 2am, worrying Sarah in the process. Whoops! Probably the reason I was so tired was that I'd been to another gig the night before...
Slightly smaller scale, this one: ancient Anarcho-crusty punks The Subhumans at Cheltenham's Frog 'n' Fiddle, supported by Gloucester Street Punk Heroes, the Noise Agents. The Subhumans had always stood out from the crowd back in the early '80s because, unlike most Anarchist bands, they could actually play their instruments and had some proper songs, including the fantastic Religious Wars, above. I'd always liked their records but never seen them live back in the day so I was keen to see if they could still cut it, three decades after the fact.
And, oh yes, they could. The Subhumans played a blazing set of angry, funny and shoutalong-exciting protest songs, rooted in the Thatcher era but often still sadly relevant today. Frontman Dick Lucas was a wired and wiry ball of energy, careering around the stage, veins and eyeballs bulging, launching into hilarious rants between the songs, slating bankers and Facebook users amongst other targets. Old favourites were blasted out  -  Reality Is Waiting For A Bus, Drugs Of Youth and Religious Wars itself all standout moments. See setlist below, appropriated from the stage, complete with abbreviated song titles...
In its low-rent, noisy, retro way, this was one of the best gigs I've been to in ages. Lots of fun with some of my regular gig buddies. Here I am, being very silly with Wendy and Glenn...
OK, that's Part One. More recent gigs to follow soon...

2 comments:

John Pitt said...

Just dropped by to wish you & your family a very Merry Christmas and our 2 cats send the same to your 2 cats!

cerebus660 said...

Hi John! Thanks for the kind wishes, mate. Here's wishing a wonderful Christmas from all of us to all of you - and thanks for your support for this humble blog :-)

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