The Gaslight Anthem, Good Old War, & Redwater Rojo – Agora Ballroom – Cleveland, OH – 03/31/2009 – Concert Review

The Gaslight Anthem

Last minute shows are always a good time for me.  First I have to see if I can get off work early enough to go home and change from my “business casual” attire so I do not stand out like a sore thumb and then there is the planning of meeting up with friends and trying to grab a quick bite to eat.  Sometimes this planning fails immediately as work beckons me to stay, meaning I can not get off that evening.  Luckily for me things worked out perfectly this past Tuesday when The Gaslight Anthem came to town.

Matt from Addicted To Vinyl mentioned to me on Monday night that The Gaslight Anthem were playing the Agora Ballroom with special guests Good Old War and local rockers Redwater Rojo the very next night.  I honestly did not think I was going to make it to this show and kicked myself for also forgetting about it.  I was not 100% sure that I would be able to leave work early enough to head out to Cleveland to see them perform but as luck would have it I was able to.

Matt and I decided to grab a bite to eat before hitting the show and jokingly we discuss eating at My Friends in Lakewood, OH as I was once convinced he lived there because every time I ever picked him up for a show or what have you he insisted on meeting me at My Friends.  I give him hell for it all the time but on Tuesday I was shocked when he told me I could pick him up from his dwelling.

Once I arrived Matt asked me if I had ever eaten at The Town Fryer, a local southern cuisine based eatery, and I stated I had not.  He reminded me that the restaurant had expanded recently and opened shop in the same building as the Agora.  He suggested we eat there since it was literally butted up to the venue and I agreed it was a good idea.

Now normally I do not mix food reviews with concert reviews but something happened while we were eating that involved unknown crew/friends of a band that would play later that night.  It was not about the food, that was excellent (the catfish was to die for!), it was about other patrons…

I should take a moment here and clear something up right quick.  Originally I thought the people seated behind me were Good Old War with a female friend.  I was quick to exchange emails later in the day after writing the blog with my good pal Jonah who informed me that said girl who was associated with Good Old War was the merch girl and she, nor the band, were even able to eat at The Town Fryer as they closed shop shortly after Matt and I finished our meal.  So to Good Old War band members/crew, supposed girl, her boss, and anyone else who read this blog originally…oops, my bad.  Seriously, I need to stop assuming things…

Anyways…

While seated at The Town Fryer there were some folk seated behind Matt and I who were giving the waitress kind of a rough time.  It was apparent the waitress was a little stressed out since she was the only one there and we later learned that she not even 5 minutes before we walked in found out she had to open shop.  Apparently The Town Fryer was in the process of moving from one space to another in the building and she had been there since 6:30am.

To make a long story short these cool folk were not too kind and not too cool in my standards.  I knew they had something to do with the band because they paid with meal tickets, something that is given to the band and crew only.

There was a female companion who sat along with a few guys who seemed to be making a big stink about “being vegetarian” and gave the waitress kind of a hard time about her order.  Granted the restaurant lacked some of the menu items I still found it uncalled for how they were being.  They were not exactly a-holes to the waitress but enough to bother me while I was eating.

Regardless of how crappy her day was and how long she had been on her feet busting her ass for a decent paycheck, our waitress gave Matt and I great service and in return we were nice to her as we both understood she was having a rough day.  She was a cute girl and just looked ever so tired.  I could see the long day she had in her eyes so I decided to be extra friendly and funny to her.  I am pretty sure thanks to our conversations with her we put a smile on her face.  I will be going there again for sure.

Something that also pissed me off was that later our waitress told us that the tip Ms. I’m A Vegetarian left her was not even $3.00 for a $60.00 bill total (I don’t give a crap if there were coupons/meal tickets/gift cards…your tip should reflect the total bill).  Don’t worry friends/crew that hangs out with unknown band, I tipped heavy on account that you suck as patrons and failed to understand how rough of a time that waitress was having.  I had been in the food business for many years of my life and this you should know… – respect your servers.

So let’s get back to talking about the show shall we?

The original bill for this show stated that Dayton, OH’s Heartless Bastards were playing as well but for some unknown reason they skipped Cleveland but managed to play Pittsburgh and Columbus just days before.  If anyone knows why they skipped out I would love to know especially since I have been wanting to see them live for a while now and am a little bummed they passed up Cleveland.  I guess I will see them this summer though as they are playing the 2009 Bonnaroo.  Luckily the Agora was able to acquire Redwater Rojo to fill in last minute.

Cleveland’s Redwater Rojo took the stage to a small gathering to start off the night.  I have seen their name around and even used to work with the lead singer years ago but I had never seen them live.  Their performance was good with a strong mix of southern , smooth , and even at one time some progressive rock.  I was shocked to hear how great the lead singer’s voice was as I was not even aware he was the front-man of the band when he told me about it years ago.  I liked their music and hope to see them play again.  My only complaints really were that the band kind of stood in place their entire set and lacked movement and I was unable to decipher if they were religious or not as some songs seemed to go hand in hand with a bible while others screamed F you to pretentious women.

While hanging out in the lobby of the Agora, Good Old War performed.  I had never heard any material by the Langhorne, PA folk fun rockers whose songs really remind me of Paul Simon.  They were entertaining and from the medium sized crowd that cheered and sang along with them I would have to say I got a kick out of them and will be checking out their release Only Way To Be Alone sometime soon.

I do need to add though at times during Good Old War’s performance, loud group cheers from the bar area of the Agora overpowered their performance and I knew why.  The Cleveland Cavaliers were kicking some serious ass that night and a bunch of the attendees at the show gathered around the television to cheer on LeBron James and others towards another victory.  Go Cavs!  Only in Cleveland…

The Gaslight Anthem took stage after the Cavs claimed a win so everyone at the venue focused all their attention at the New Jersey quartet.  Opening with “Great Expectations” the band sounded just as amazing as they do on their studio releases.  All of the members were smiling and playing their hearts out and it was truly enjoyable seeing that.  Throughout the show they played some of my favorites like “Old White Lincoln” and “Even Cowgirls Get The Blues” as well as “We Came To Dance” off their first release and “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts” off the Señor And The Queen EP.

The lead singer Brian Fallon at one time explained to the crowd that they were smiling and laughing so much because of inside jokes the band had with one another.  The laughs soon were shared with the fans when Brian Fallon stated that he could not having a hard time understanding what any of the guys were screaming at him but was able to hear the ladies perfectly.  I found myself laughing a couple times in between songs when some of the things the guys were screaming translated into “What?  Ja Rule was at a Gaslight show?” and “I heard french kissed hot dogs”.

Aside from the great rock and jokes Brian Fallon spoke about a legend of a performer who many compare the band to, Bruce Springsteen.  At one time he told the crowd that he met Bruce Springsteen and they talked about New Jersey and their music.  It was awesome to hear his short memories of the conversation and his attempt to imitate how the “Boss” speaks.

One statement that Brian Fallon did state earlier in the show about Bruce Springsteen kind of irked me a bit.  He mentioned that Bruce Springsteen was being inducted into the Rock Hall later in the week but the truth is that there is a Bruce Springsteen exhibit being opened at the Rock Hall later in the week and that it’s been 10 years since he was inducted into the Rock Hall.  I hope for the lead singer’s sake that he was just overcome at the response of the fans and not terribly mistaken.

During the encore Brian Fallon came out with guitar in hand and played a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire”.  While he performed the classic I thought it would be a good time to head to the merch tables and see what goodies I wanted to pick up.  I decided that it was a good idea to pick up Sink Or Swim and The 59 Sound both on vinyl to add them to my collection.  I know these will be records I will listen for years to come.

Upon leaving we made a pit stop with the coolest “booking girl” ever and hung out with her for a few moments behind closed doors.  I could hear The Gaslight Anthem continue their encore and the very last song they played sounded like “Stand By Me” but was morphed into a song I could not figure out.  I thought they played three songs during the encore but I would not be surprised if I am mistaken.  If the set list below is not accurate let me know so I can update it.  Thanks.

I was really hoping that the boys that night would have played a little more material from Sink Or Swim or  Señor And The Queen EP, but this night was mostly all about their latest release The 59 Sound.  Regardless of their choice of the songs on the set list it was an awesome performance and I can not wait to see these guys again.  I do have the feeling though that next time the show will not be as intimate as this show was.  This band is going places.

The Gaslight Anthem Set List:

Great Expectations
High Lonesome
Old White Lincoln
Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
Wooderson
The ‘59 sound
We Came To Dance
Film Noir
Casanova, Baby!
Miles Davis & the Cool
Meet Me By The River’s Edge
Here’s Looking At You Kid
The Backseat

Encore (I could be off on this so if anyone has the correct set list let me know!)

I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen cover)
Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts
Stand By Me /I’da Called You Woody, Joe

Here’s a video a fan took of Brian Fallon signing “I’m On FIre” (no I did not take this…)

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