The Gaslight Anthem, Live On Letterman


As part of the crowd that joined the TGA fan club on day one* I got to go to the “Live At Letterman” taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater tonight, for a live webcast. The band were the musical guest, and then they emptied the theater out and filled it back up with friends, family, some VIP’s, and us, the great unwashed. The band played a brisk 45 minute set, which you can watch right here.

The fact that you can watch it yourself means there is little point in me telling you about it, but I will offer a couple of thoughts. First is that the time on the road is doing them good, I have seen them three times since May and this was the best performance both musically and energetically. I wasn’t wincing at clams or missed cues or thinking that Brian wasn’t hitting the notes. Second, the sound in the theater was PHENOMENAL. (The webcast sound kind of blows. That’s too bad.) The sound mix is something that fans complain about consistently, and I realize this was not their sound person but it was refreshing in the extreme to hear a pristine, clear, proper mix. I thought the pace of the show worked well, I liked the sequence and mix of songs, and still enjoy hearing “Baba O’Riley.” I thought it was interesting that after the recent trend of Brian shedding the guitar for a few numbers, he eschewed that move completely, likely in the service of not wanting to waste time on taking guitars on and off, possibly not wanting to feel awkward without the guitar to hide behind on TV.

It was nice to hear the “leaked” “Here Comes My Man,” giving us a grand total of three songs from Handwritten, but I have to say that this bullshit of not playing the new material live until the album comes out has got to stop. At this point it is just stupid. The band needs to build a new setlist around the new material and they can’t do it if they can’t play it. Most people who are going to go see the band on the upcoming tours are likely going with an expectation of hearing new material since there is a record coming out in less than a month, and yet, the only songs being played are the single, the one that everyone knows because they played it in Australia, and now, the one that appeared on their website for a few hours over the weekend and then just as mysteriously vanished. Mostly, I just want to hear the damn thing already, and I will go see TGA even if there is no new material, but there needs to be new material already.

I appreciated the goodwill of the band getting the people in the fan club into the show, and apparently it was not that hard to get tickets, but the entire process of getting tickets and then getting into the theater was agonizing. As a veteran of multiple Late Night With Jimmy Fallon tapings, NBC runs their operation with military precision. NBC numbers tickets and has different lines and funnels the various groups efficiently. CBS had a VIP queue and a regular folks queue and just could not get their shit together. This, of course, has nothing to do with the band (although when CBS security was lecturing us that if we were sent to the balcony that we shouldn’t complain, we did feel like the fans were getting the short end of the stick) but damn it was annoying. I was also happy to finally be inside the Ed Sullivan Theater, which was just cool to think about.

You know it’s a good night when Alex Rosamilia emerges beaming underneath the hoodie, but everyone had big grins on their faces. I took photos with my camera phone from Row J because I wanted to try to capture some of that. They did good; they even did great. It’s too bad the webcast couldn’t show more of that.

*(a longer post that basically translates into, I am hedging that this band will get big enough that I will be happy to be one of the first people to have joined it, just like I remain delighted that I am a five-digit Pearl Jam fan club member)