Brian Fallon may be the most disarmingly sincere man on the planet, at least one with a guitar, a PA system, and a large audience.
I know Brian Fallon more as a solo act than as a member of The Gaslight Anthem, probably to my detriment. It’s just that in living near the Jersey shore, I have had the opportunity to see him solo in some smaller venues. Which is really cool, for me anyways. This evening he performed at Irving Plaza – one of the best venues in New York City.
Fallon’s songs are not religious, but they certainly are spiritual. They are forlorn with loss; with the reassuring hint that things still may be okay in the end. His voice, a bit jagged at times, fits perfectly with the words. It isn’t his singing we are interested in, we are interested in his performance. His lyrics are just descriptive enough to set a scene in which you can insert your own experiences. The songs are vehicles for which you can overlay your own narrative, brief glimpses and remembrances of your own memories.
Brian Fallon’s audience knows all of his lyrics. They know the melodies as well as the harmonies. That must be really cool for a songwriter. He seems surprised and humbled. During one of his solo shows at the Keswick Theater he even stated, “This whole gig tonight, I used to be a roofer, I don’t know how I stumbled into this.”
Fallon spreads his performance out with humorous observations, soliloquies, testimonials, and explanations of life. The spoken parts of his performance are little testimonials, check-ins with the crowd – he is getting older and is a father. He is asking the crowd, not just how they are doing at the concert, but how they are doing as they age along with him. He presents himself, mistakes, success, and scars, as clear as his many tattoos. He offers, “here I am, I got kids now, I got rent to pay, and I’m not sure how I got here, but here I am – and I think I’m okay.” And we are okay too, and we appreciate that he has even asked.
here I am, I got kids now, I got rent to pay, and I’m not sure how I got here, but here I am – and I think I’m okay.”
Other topics covered during the non-musical interludes:
- Leprosy may be the only disease he can confidently state has been contracted by no one in the audience;
- He doesn’t believe that Jack White doesn’t have a cell phone;
- He keeps a blood pressure monitor under the sink;
- Elton John always looks good in photos;
- He protects his kids by keeping them away from Matthew McConaughey, or least one of Matthew McConaughey’s movie characters;
- He’s okay with roomier jeans.
And in his songs he touches upon love and faith and how hard it is to keep love and faith alive.
His performance is part Dylan, Springsteen, Tweedy, and Arlo Guthrie. And while reminiscent of those performers, he is utterly original. Although from New Jersey, Fallon has the necessary touch of a mid-western drawl – a necessary element of any performance of Americana.
And when the performance is over you feel saved, perhaps even forgiven. Purified, honest, sincere, self-deprecating, and disarming. Filled with passion, love, and hope. Because Brian Fallon says that he is okay. A little older, a little scraped up, but better for all of the experiences.
Here, have some photographs —
BRIAN FALLON LIVE PHOTO GALLERY
Brian Fallon Live Review and Concert Photos by Douglass “Dougigoto” Dresher.
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