The Gaslight Anthem at Riviera Theatre 9/26/22

Last week I was on here talking about the band Voxtrot reuniting after a decade-long break to play a handful of shows in the biggest markets. Last night I saw another band that got back together after a long break, but The Gaslight Anthem is doing it a little bigger. They’ve got a full tour and they’re already talking about making another album, eight years after their last release 2014’s Get Hurt.

I saw the band toward the end of their initial run before deciding to take a break, and I gotta say, it was rough. Even when I saw them, months before the official hiatus began, they seemed defeated. The energy was low, and it just seemed like no one wanted to be there. When I read the news that they were calling it quits for a while, it all made sense.

Needless to say, I was interested in seeing how they were doing after all this time. I checked out a couple of Brian Fallon’s solo shows over the past few years, and really enjoyed those. I was a bit scared that the vocal issues that caused the cancellation of a show just a few nights ago might hurt the quality of the concert, but those fears were put to rest right away, when the band came out to the Riviera stage and launched into “Have Mercy” sounding stronger than ever.

The Gaslight Anthem sold out this show, and I imagine all the shows on this reunion tour, quickly. The fans have been waiting with bated breath, and last night those in Chicago could finally exhale. It felt like a true moment of joy for everyone in attendance. It was one of the more boisterous crowds I’ve seen at this venue in a long time (and not just because of Covid).

Talking about the hiatus, Fallon mentioned the pressure of being compared to Springsteen and called the next big thing in rock and roll. The Jersey boys played into last night, covering The Boss’s “I’m On Fire” about midway through the set. A good choice (though they’ve been covering the song off and on basically since they started out), and a nice way to show everyone that you’ve accepted things and are ready to move on.

My favorite moment came a couple songs earlier, with “The Patient Ferris Wheel.” The way the band delivered it, and the audience’s reaction, felt very special. I was at the very back of the room at that point and it was hitting me like I was in the front row.

The only negative I took away from this experience was Brian Fallon calling out Chicago deep dish and saying it’s a casserole. Look, I get that Anthony Bourdain was the originator of the casserole thing, but it’s played out. Deep dish pizza is delicious, so let’s all get over it and agree that if we want to call it pizza, it’s pizza.

I’ve seen, over the course of this tour, a lot of people online complaining about Fallon’s diatribes and wasting time talking…the guy is verbose! If you’ve listened to (and enjoyed) his songs, you should know that. I overheard a couple people complaining and saying they might just leave. Well, if you just want to hear the songs you could’ve saved yourself some money and just listened to the records at home. It’s all part of the performance and creates a connection between the audience and the band.

I had a great time. Very happy that they’re back and better than when they left. They seem to be extremely engaged with the music and one another, which gets me excited to hear what the new music is going to sound like. A continuation of their sound from the early 2010’s, or did the time off give them a chance to explore some new areas that they hadn’t tried out in their early days? Could be interesting.

You can check out the band’s website to see if they’re coming to your town. They’ve got nine shows left on this current run, but I’m sure they’ll be back a little sooner this time around.