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The Gaslight Anthem Come Out Swinging At Lolla

Putting out one of the most-anticipated albums of 2012, The Gaslight Anthem’s Sunday-afternoon set at Lollapalooza was a hot ticket.

The New Jersey rockers had been making the late-night television rounds off their hit single, “45,” while embarking on an ambitious worldwide tour to support Handwritten.

But despite the buzz surrounding Anthem’s recent endeavors, there is still a sense of modesty surrounding frontman Brian Fallon and the rest of the crew. All one had to do was watch Fallon’s genuine smile in between songs as The Gaslight Anthem rocked the Google Play stage around 4:45 p.m. at Chicago’s Grant Park.

For starters, it was surprising that they chose “45” to come only two songs their set, as the lead single off Handwritten is perhaps their most popular at the moment.

Regardless, they played it with as much angst and emotion as they ever had, turning a tale about a painful breakup into a positive through the power of a catchy refrain.

That refrain wouldn’t be right, though, if it weren’t for the lyrics, as Fallon has a way to tell a story much like his fellow New Jerserian Bruce Springsteen:

“You and your high top sneakers and your sailor tattoos
“And your Ole ’55 that you drove through the roof
“Of the sky up above these indifferent stars
“While you just kept coming apart
“Right in my arms.”

The Gaslight Anthem dipped into a little soul, as well, checking in with “The Diamond Church Street Choir” from 2010’s American Slang. The scratchy-voiced Fallon nearly evokes the blue-eyed soul that Darryl Hall and John Oates put on the Top-20 map, but he still manages to maintain the band’s punk roots.

Playing outside in the oppressive sun, The Gaslight Anthem did not seem fatigued at all either.

In fact, there was a joyful vibe to their performance. Handwritten had been a long time coming, and a production credit to Pearl Jam, Springsteen and Rage Against the Machine board master Brendan O’Brien made expectations high.

The Gaslight Anthem also has a good three months of international and domestic touring on the docket.

Of course, one expects the guys to knock their upcoming tour dates out of the park. They’ve been doing it for years, building an international audience with their gritty support of the working class, oppressed and heartbroken.

And despite having a new album to promote, the Gaslight Anthem pulled an unexpected move as their show came to a close by pulling out two cuts from 2008’s The ’59 Sound in “Here’s Looking At You Kid” and “The Backseat,” the latter relying on a thumping bass line to drive the song.

“Thanks for coming out,” Fallon told the crowd at one point. “This is a really good time for us.”

Judging by the passionate audience at Lollapalooza, it certainly is.

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