“How is it here in Jersey?” Brian Fallon said. “I was away for a minute.”
The crowd roared in response. Fallon grinned.
Fallon played a series of shows last December at Crossroads in Garwood, New Jersey, but otherwise hasn’t played in his home state since 2014.
Fallon is the frontman of The Gaslight Anthem, half of the duo The Horrible Crowes and a member of Molly and the Zombies. He also just released his first solo album, “Painkillers,” and he is currently on tour as Brian Fallon & the Crowes.
Although The Gaslight Anthem has played at Starland Ballroom, they’ve never headlined before. At this show, Brian Fallon and his backing band were the main event.
The opening acts started the night well. The first opener, Jared Hart, showed off his strong, gravelly voice and gave a shout-out to Philadelphia punk band, The Menzingers.
The second opener, Austin Plaine, seemed nervous, stating that this was the largest crowd he had ever played for. Nevertheless, he and his band delivered heartfelt folk-rock with beautiful four-part harmonies.
When Fallon and the Crowes came onstage, it felt like a family reunion. The Crowes included familiar faces such as Jared Hart, Alex Rosamilia of The Gaslight Anthem and Ian Perkins of The Horrible Crowes. It felt like the fans were part of the family too.
It was clear that Fallon was glad to be back. In typical Fallon fashion, he told a rambling story about trying to buy soda in California and finding only organic juice in all of the stores.
“This is California. Everyone is on cocaine, and I can’t get a soda?” he said, deadpan. “So I came back [to New Jersey].”
He dedicated a song to pork roll—the processed pork product only found in New Jersey—and started laughing before he could finish the sentence. On a more serious note, he spoke about how the hardworking people he grew up with have continued to inspire him.
He and the band played a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.” Fallon has been compared to Springsteen throughout his career since they’re both blue-collar musicians with a Jersey Shore sound. However, with this cover, he held his own and put a different spin on the song.
“You better sing along with this one,” he said as they began. Fans sang as loudly as they could.
The setlist included almost all of “Painkillers” and half of “Elsie,” the only Horrible Crowes record. The band played well, switching effortlessly between the lighter, more pensive style of “Painkillers” and the heavier, more dramatic style of “Elsie.”
Standout songs included the powerful and organ-heavy “Go Tell Everybody,” the sad but swingy “Among Other Foolish Things” and “Rosemary,” sung from a female perspective.
Toward the middle of the set, the Crowes left the stage and Fallon played a thoughtful rendition of the Gaslight Anthem song “National Anthem.” This performance was something special, something rarely seen at either Gaslight Anthem or Brian Fallon shows.
Throughout the night, Fallon performed to the fullest. His voice sounded stronger than ever and he could instantly jump from a whisper to a growl. His facial expressions added so much to the music. He would raise an eyebrow, smile, wink at the crowd, or close his eyes and each gesture would take the song in a different direction.
Fallon has a deep connection to his music. He is still playing shows because he still has something to say.
After The Gaslight Anthem announced their indefinite hiatus last summer, Fallon’s fans were worried that he wouldn’t record or tour as often.
This show proved they have nothing to worry about—Brian Fallon is back.