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Live Review: The Gaslight Anthem, Twin Atlantic & Sharks - Brixton Academy - 26/6/10

Tonight’s show is all about influences. Every band has them, and some show them more than others. Whilst it is all too easy to fall into the trap of mimicry, great bands wear their influences on their sleeves and use them to create a sound of their own. The Gaslight Anthem fall into the latter camp, however where tonight’s supports fall is questionable.

Opening the show to a largely empty Brixton Academy are Midlands-based Sharks. They are undoubtedly a band that relies on their onstage energy, much of which is swallowed up by the cavernous and half-empty Academy, resulting in their Clash-worshipping tunes sounding all too similar. That said they receive a larger applause than expected, possibly indicating a few new fans had been gained.

Next up are Scottish rising-stars Twin Atlantic, bursting onto the stage in full force, front man Sam McTrusty takes the pointlessly aggressive approach to start with, making some quip to the audience about it being a gig not a funeral. Luckily for him, his band does the talking and their take on alt-rock, sounds professional and fills the academy in a way that Sharks could not manage. There are clearly a pocket of Twin Atlantic fans in the audience who rasp along to every word, and by the time the last chords of ‘What Is Light? Where Is Laughter?’ ring out there are a number more singing the bands praises. Whoever said Twin Atlantic would be better if Biffy Clyro didn’t exist may soon have to re-evaluate their words.

The anticipation for the headliner’s visibly grows as the distinctively ‘punk-rock’ banner is lowered. Entering the stage in their typically low key way, Brian Fallon is all smiles from the start and looking around at the audience so are most of them. Opening with the title track off of new album ‘American Slang’ what is instantly surprising is how many of tonight’s massive audience are almost word perfect. Having previously seen the band in relatively small venues, tonight’s show proves how much they have grown in popularity over the past two years and new songs such as ‘Queen Of Lower Chelsea’ hint that the band maybe stadium fillers in the not too distant future.

Every song is met with a sea of movement, and harked back to the band in top voice. Songs like ‘Miles Davis And The Cool’ sound like they were written with venues like this in mind, while ‘Bring it on’ and ‘Diamond Street Choir’ provide the ‘bro-mantic’ singalongs craved by a good percentage of the crowd. The double salvo of a haunting ‘Blue Jeans And White T-Shirts’ and an enigmatic cover of The Who’s ‘Baba O’Reilly’ serve as a great close to their initial set and leave them set up beautifully for an encore.

Tellingly, the only track from the band’s debut, ‘We Came To Dance’ is saved as the opener for the encore, and the crowd explodes. Nearly all of the immediate audience know every word and the front section is bubbling. Two more tracks from 'The 59' Sound' are sandwiched in (‘Film Noir’ and ‘Here’s Looking At You, Kid’) before the commonplace set closer ‘Backseat’ provides the perfect curtain call.

Say what you like about Gaslight Anthem’s Springsteen-aping, there is no doubt that they have taken their influence and added their own flavour to great effect, making something truly special.

Dan Issitt

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