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Live review: Brian Fallon and the Howling Weather at the Boiler Shop, Newcastle

Brian Fallon live at the Boiler Shop, Newcastle. Photo: Gary Welford.
Brian Fallon live at the Boiler Shop, Newcastle. Photo: Gary Welford.

It’s now 10 years since US alternative rock act the Gaslight Anthem released their breakthrough second album, The ’59 Sound, and they’ll be reuniting in the summer after three years apart for a tour to mark its anniversary.

The title track of that album, only a No 55 hit here following its release in August 2008 but later to earn the band their only British Phonographic Industry gold disc to date, was the first of three encores played by Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle last night, March 8.

Dave Hause live at the Boiler Shop, Newcastle. Photo: Gary Welford.

Dave Hause live at the Boiler Shop, Newcastle. Photo: Gary Welford.

It was also the only Gaslight Anthem song to feature in a setlist lasting almost an hour and three-quarters and running to just short of 20 songs, giving his old and future band, formed in New Jersey in 2006, no more of a look-in than U2, Tom Waits or local heroes Dire Straits and just half the amount of time allotted to his 2011 side project the Horrible Crowes.

That’s because last night, and indeed the rest of this tour, was more about what happened a month ago than a decade ago, that being the release of the 38-year-old’s second solo album, Sleepwalkers, a No 15 hit.

Fallon played nine of the dozen tracks making it up, all being welcomed like old favourites rather than songs none of the 1,000 or so fans present at what is shaping up to be an excellent addition to the north east’s expanding array of live venues had heard just over a month ago.

His first solo album, 2016’s Painkillers, a No 13 hit, accounted for a further handful or thereabouts, and the Horrible Crowes’ only LP to date, 2011’s Elsie, had two of its songs featured, Sugar and Ladykiller.

Fallon was in fine voice and on good form throughout his second solo show in Newcastle, his previous visit having been to the city’s O2 Academy in November 2016.

He was also his usual genial if somewhat garrulous self between songs, tending to go off at one tangent after another. Why he’s worrying about Halloween already when it’s still seven months away is anybody’s guess, for instance, and quite how so much of his betwixt-song banter ended up being about socks is also a mystery.

Eccentricity is part of Fallon’s charm, however, and he, along with backing band the Howling Weather, had a capacity crowd enthralled from set opener A Wonderful Life, from Painkillers, through to his final encore, a cover version of the 1987 U2 single I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, accompanied by support act Dave Hause.

Hause, by the way, was also well worth seeing, his 45-minute warm-up set, including a cover of the 1989 Tom Petty single I Won’t Back Down, being enjoyable throughout.

Fallon’s tour moves on to Leeds tonight and then Dublin and Belfast over the weekend before heading back over the Atlantic to his native US.