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Review: Brian Fallon and The Howling Weather, The Boiler Shop, Newcastle

Brian Fallon and The Howling Weather at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.
Brian Fallon and The Howling Weather at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

As frontman of US rockers The Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon got used to making hit records and headlining arena shows around the world.

But when they went on indefinite hiatus in 2015 it certainly wasn't so their main songwriter could enjoy some downtime or kick back and enjoy the fruits of their success.

Brian Fallon and The Howling Weather at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Brian Fallon and The Howling Weather at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

If anything, his output has become even more prolific, and he has released two albums in as many years as a solo artist.

This date is part of a tour to promote the latest record, Sleepwalkers, which is a typical slice of heartland rock 'n' roll in the Bruce Springsteen mould.

The hors d'oeuvres tonight was Philadelphia singer Dave Hause (it rhymes with Jaws, hence the splendid T-shirt on the merch stand), and he is a perfect fit for a Brian Fallon show.

Like Fallon, his roots lie in punk, and again like the headliner, he has matured into a purveyor of heartfelt Americana, singing songs of love, loss and reflection.

Dave Hause was a fine fit as the opening act for Brian Fallow at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford

Dave Hause was a fine fit as the opening act for Brian Fallow at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford

A 40-minute set of tracks like C'Mon Kid, Time Will Tell and a fine cover of Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down will have won him more than a few new fans, myself included.

Onto the main course then; Fallon made a low-key start to the eagerly-anticipated show - it sold out months ago - sat at a keyboard, performing the title track from his new album.

The New Jersey native's bourbon-soaked voice is one of the most distinctive in rock, and he was on good form right from the off.

When he strapped on his guitar it was game on, and he and his three-piece band The Howling Weather dipped into an extensive back catalogue which included a good smattering of songs from the new album, as well as a few gems by his other side projects, The Horrible Crowes and Molly and The Zombies.

Brian Fallon and The Howling Weather at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Brian Fallon and The Howling Weather at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

The latter provided us with two of the best songs of the night in Red Lights and Smoke, while Forget Me Not was, for me, the pick of the new material.

A handful of well-chosen covers also lit up the set; Dire Straits' Sultans of Swing went down particularly well in writer Mark Knopfler's home town, but not as well as the only Gaslight Anthem tune to make the cut, The '59 Sound.

Performed as a stripped-down version by Fallon alone at the piano, it prompted the night's biggest singalong, and he was grinning from ear to ear as the crowd sang his words back at him.

His remark "Good job" at the end was surely the understatement of the evening, and the response to the song showed just why The Gaslight Anthem's music touched so many people.

Brian Fallon and The Howling Weather at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Brian Fallon and The Howling Weather at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

More was still to come in a three-song encore, with album closer See You On The Other Side followed by a faithful rendition of U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

It was a lovely, warm way to end the 90-minute set, and to those who will see Fallon perform with the reconvened Gaslight Anthem this summer, all I can say is you lucky, lucky people.

Brian Fallon and The Howling Weather at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Brian Fallon and The Howling Weather at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.