Earlier this week I got to check out my second Brian Fallon show of the year, this time at the slightly more intimate Park West. As he noted early in the show, it’s great to be so close because he’s no better than me, I’m no better than you, we all just want to enjoy some music. The audience, sparse when I arrived around 7:15 but packed in fairly tight by the time Ryan Bingham’s set ended, seemed to agree and the evening was very much a positive exchange of vibes between transmitter and receivers.
The set list was pretty similar to the first time, with the exception that he opened with Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” featuring Ryan Bingham and also having his co-headliner join for “Handle With Care” toward the end of the set. The two make for a great pair of songwriting buddies who get the best out of each other.
While Bingham got a little political during his set, Fallon took the opportunity to clear the air. Before he went into “Long Drives” he called attention to the fact that many music critics like to write that his songs take place in a nostalgic 50’s that doesn’t exist anymore. To that he says, “No. My songs take place today. All of them do.” And then he mades some jokes about owning a Volkswagen and a Mini Cooper and neither of them are vintage. He admitted that he tends to talk a lot in between songs, which he does, but he’s a talented storyteller so it doesn’t take away from the show at all.
Painkillers is currently in my top 25 records of the year, and the song “Smoke” is right up near the top of my favorite songs, so hearing a lot of those tunes, “Smoke” included was a treat once again. The singalong aspects of “Steve McQueen” and “A Wonderfull Life” adds to the living room feel, with all those voices singing together as one. He does a great job of creating an environment where everyone feels welcome.
I like the fact that he doesn’t play any Gaslight Anthem songs. When I saw the band play during the summer of 2014 it was pretty obvious that they weren’t going to last much longer. So if he’s burnt out on those songs, I’m glad he trusts his fans enough to not feel like he has to play those older tracks to please them. Honestly, I like the songs on Painkillers more than I ever liked the Gaslight Anthem songs anyway.
Only a handful of US dates remain for Brian Fallon this year. He’s doing some east coast shows and then heading overseas for a run in November. You can check out his site for all tour dates.
Won’t Back Down (with Ryan Bingham)
A Wonderful Life
Open All Night
Behold The Hurricane
Handle With Care (with Ryan Bingham and Paul Cauthen)