There is something about seeing an artist play in their hometown, and although Brian Fallon may be originally from Red Bank, NJ, many including himself, consider Asbury Park to be the home of the singer songwriter.
While Fallon is best known for his time as the guitarist and front man for the Gaslight Anthem, over the past two years Fallon has been separating himself from that tag, and creating a new identity for himself as a solo act and story teller. Every so often he may require a back up band to support his shows, but for the most part Fallon’s true passion these days is to play acoustic and to be able to interact and talk to the crowd. One can tell he knows in order to do this he has to strip things down and just play the songs he has written alone on a stage with a microphone and one guitar.
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On February 3 & 4 Fallon came back to his “hometown” and played 2 nights at the newly established House of Independents located in the beautiful downtown of Asbury Park, NJ. The first night was supposed to be supported by Scranton PA’s Petal, but the band was taken off the bill mere hours before they were supposed to perform. No news has been issued as to why they were unable to perform that night, and neither Fallon nor the venue offered any information, so we can all just hope everything is ok on their end. NJ local, Jared Hart, front man of Jersey City’s punk band the Scandals and backup guitarist for Brian Fallon’s “Crowes” band stepped up and played both nights, when he was just supposed to play Saturday’s gig. It is clear that Hart has a special place in Fallon’s heart, and Fallon has attempted to take Hart under his wing and show him the ropes, it is evident because Hart has opened and toured with Fallon for quite some time now. His style is rough but smooth, and has a distinct vibrato of his voice going from a raw sound to a polished one in a blink of an eye.
Fallon’s set was mainly consistent of his solo album, “Painkillers” where he played about 10 out of the 12 songs each night. These days Fallon tries to respectfully do his own thing, and not have the Gaslight Anthem title hang over his head, but with that being said he understands his roots, and chooses to play a select few songs from the band’s catalogue at each show. The crowd was full of excitement when he chose to perform the bands classic “Blue Jeans & White T-shirts” a song that has several references to the city he was performing in that night. “Someday I’ll buy that old house on Cookman,” a street name that can be found right outside the venue where the House of Independents lies on. A song that Fallon also chooses to not play anymore because of emotional connections that he may associate, but it was as if Fallon wanted to bring the song home one more time. Fallon also played “Stray Paper” from Gaslight’s final album “Get Hurt” on Friday and “Boxer” from the band’s third album “American Slang” on Saturday night. Each night he also chose to play a cover song from an artist he was inspired by. On Friday he played “Long May You Run” by the Stills- Young band and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” by Bob Dylan, two acts who he claims had a strong impression on his songwriting and performances over the years.
Gaslight Anthem’s future may still be unknown to the fans and equally by the band, but for now Fallon seems beyond happy doing his solo work, and being able to sit and play for the fans who are ready to follow him no matter which direction he goes. Both nights sold out in a blink of an eye, and that fan base is not going anywhere anytime soon.