The Gaslight Anthem magical at PNC Bank Arts Center Holmdel, NJ 9-13-14 w/ Jimmy Eat World & Against Me!

Back in the early days of summer, The Gaslight Anthem announced one of the most anticipated early fall tours of 2014 hitting cities across North America through October with Against Me! and Jimmy Eat World.  Having recently released their fifth studio, Get Hurt, fans have been anxious to hear some of their new hits live for the first time.  With a solid lineup of bands with a strong presence in the modern alternative rock scene, a cold and rainy night on Saturday September 13th did not stop anyone from coming to see Gaslight Anthem play in their home town of New Jersey.  Fans crowded into the PNC Bank Arts Center wearing rain ponchos to watch the bands in the partial outdoor venue thousands gathered on the lawn ready to go.

Up first was Gainsesville, Florida based rockers Against Me!.  Having recently completed a series of highly successful headlining shows along the east coast on their own, this was a more grand opportunity for the band to shine.  Having heavy influence in from punk rock Against Me! has stood on their own in the alternative rock scene establishing themselves over the course of the last decade plus.  Performing an exciting set of their new and older tunes including songs like “Unconditional Love,” “New Wave,” and “Don’t Lose Touch,” vocalist Laura Jane Grace and company struck this audiences interest in a big way.  With their new record Transgender Dysphoria Blues out now Against Me! are making bold statements with their honest raw style.

Warmed up by Against Me!, the crowd remained in their seats to make sure they would not miss Jimmy Eat World.  With over two decades to their name on the scene, the band has released eight studio albums including their most recent in 2013 titled Damage.  They took the stage wearing all black, which matched their big black banner that hung across the stage. Their entrance was sudden and was not supported by flashing lights or effects, but successfully got the crowd to their feet as they opened with one of their most popular songs called “A Praise Chorus.” Lead guitarist / vocalist, Jim Adkins, was full of energy as he moved around the stage with his guitar and constantly screamed out to the crowd.

Including two new songs, “Appreciation” and “I Will Steal You Back,” Jimmy Eat World connected to the crowd on a personal level after singing about relatable topics like breakups and heartache.  Fans closet to the front were screaming every lyric of each song including deeper tracks like “23.” It was incredible to see the different generations of fans at the show, including children as young as eight years old with their mothers and fathers.  As the band concluded their set, Adkins pointed to the lawn and reflected on his younger days hopping fences into shows to watch his favorite bands.  The funny anecdote was a great personal touch with the fans and they went into their biggest hit, “In the Middle.” Widening the eyes of the band, the entire audience sang along to the every word of the song.  Jimmy Eat Worlds energy was unbelievably strong. Fortunately, they will be back around in October playing their headlining The Futures tour beginning October 2nd.

When it was time for the headliners to start their set, the crowd starting cheering loudly for the New Brunswick based The Gaslight Anthem to come on stage.  With a massive backdrop of their Get Hurt album cover dressed behind that could be seen for miles away,  The Gaslight Anthem entered to the stage in a very suspenseful and literally blinding fashion. The stage light dramatically drenched red as white strobes beamed into the crowd as the band opened with a new track, “Stay Vicious”. This dramatic and energized opening song got the crowd ready for what would be a performance full of suprises.  Fans danced, sang, and shook their heads to their favorite songs as The Gaslight Anthem played inspired from start to finish.

Carefully paying homage to their past, they play many older songs among the great new ones including “Underneath The Ground”, “Helter Skeleton,” and “Break Your Heart.”   Vocalist Brian Fallon was all smiles and gracious to play this large amphitheater in his home state along with the rest of the band. After concluding the fifteen song opening set with “Dark Places”, they then treated fans to an amazing nine song encore which was equally enthusiastic. Bassist Alex Levine and guitarist Alex Rosamilia were very focused in the music and it was easy to see they wanted to put on the best performance they possibly could for these adoring fans. Songs like “The ’59 Round” and “Great Expectations” were just a few of those performed during this extensive second half to which fans were on their feet most of the time, even the covered dry seated area. Fallon acknowledged his appreciation for rock-n-roll history stating what a privilege it was to be on the same stage that Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers had just played a few days earlier.

As the unpresented two hour set concluded with The Who cover “Babe O’Riley,” fans applauded loudly having been completely satisfied with the evening provided.  No rain could have dampened the bright positive feeling that The Gaslight Anthem provided to all.  With the tour continuing through October 17th in the USA, the band will then head over to Europe to rock abroad.

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