Words by Alex Napoliello | Photo by Joe Papeo
The Jersey Shore is back open and ready for business. Nearly 7 months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged through beach towns from Sandy Hook to Atlantic City, it’s the slogan often repeated by many who are ready to move forward and get on with business as usual. What better way to reinstall normalcy than to have The Gaslight Anthem as the opening band on the Stone Pony Summer stage.
As the rain trickled down on a cool New Jersey night on Memorial Day weekend, TGA made it clear that a little bit of bad weather wasn’t going to stop them and that one of the most horrific storms New Jersey has ever endured wasn’t going to breakdown a community that’s “stronger than the storm.”
But before The Gaslight Anthem took the stage, The Hold Steady serenaded the sold out crowd outside the back of the Pony with their tales of drunken stupors and girls who do way too many drugs. Front man Craig Finn jumped around the stage, grabbing the mic with a fiery passion as he sang, “we’re going to build something this summer,” starting the set with their hit “Constructive Summer.”
Finn and his band mates played for a little over an hour, filling their set with both new and old. The Hold Steady’s biggest fan reaction came from “Sequestered in Memphis,” which for many in the crowd was the only song they could sing along to. But for the true Hold Steady fans, “Stuck Between Stations” was a pleasant treat. The set closed with “Slapped Actress,” a song that ends with an acappella sing along of chants that left the energy high for The Gaslight Anthem.
As the night turned from grey to black and the rain subsided, The Gaslight Anthem took the stage around 8:30 to a roar of appreciation from the loyal, hometown crowd. Brian Fallon and his crew kicked the evening off with the title track from their latest record, Handwritten. After a couple of high energy songs, Fallon addressed the crowd for the first time, “we’re tired of the rain, this town has seen enough rain, time to get the summer going,” referencing the off-season storm that has left its mark in many of the shore towns.
The Gaslight Anthem’s set was filled mainly with newer songs, “45,” “Biloxi Parish,” and “Blue Dahlia,” to name a few. However, it ended strong with a flurry of older stuff starting with “Miles Davis and the Cool,” as Fallon proceeded it by saying, “this is an old one we haven’t played in a while.”
For the Gaslight Anthem fan who’s been there from the beginning, it’s both joyous and perplexing to hear that “Miles Davis and the Cool” is now labeled as an oldie. Where does the time go? But even after all the new tracks that have graced radio waves and stadiums around the country, the song that started it all for TGA, “The ’59 Sound,” still gets the loudest applause.
Old White Lincoln
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
The Diamond Church Street Choir
Angry Johnny and the Radio
(With Blood Bank by Bon Iver)
The Patient Ferris Wheel
Too Much Blood
Miles Davis and the Cool
Meet Me by the River’s Edge
She Loves You
The ’59 Sound
Here’s Looking at You, Kid
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