Gig Review
Gaslight Anthem
Frank Turner, Polar Bear Club
Birmingham, Academy 2
3rd february 2009

Gaslight Anthem          Frank Turner               Polar Bear Club   
Photo Of Polar Bear Club © Copyright Helen WilliamsAs I arrive, I’m disappointed to find that the night’s gig is to be held in the Academy 2, the much smaller sister venue of the main Academy, where the gig had been billed to take place. However, the venue soon proves to be the selling point of the night as it provides an intimate and friendly setting in which to enjoy all three acts.

Polar Bear Club are up first, from Rotherham (the one in America). While they are a little ‘screamo’ for my liking, they perform plenty of powerful songs, and clearly love being here. The lead vocalist, Jimmy, should be commended in particular for his relentless bouncing across the stage. They’re such an energetic band, in fact, that it’s a wonder the small stage is able to contain them, and that there aren’t any accidents!

Photo Of Frank Turner © Copyright Helen WilliamsThere’s a short break; just long enough to get a drink from the bar, before the line up continues. Amidst a few claps, Frank Turner takes to the stage in an unpretentious manner, and begins to tune his own guitar. His act is far removed from the hardcore style of his old band, Million Dead, but his new acoustic folk approach is no less appealing. I’m expecting a small backing band to accompany him, but his entire set is a one-man-show. Usually, this would be very hard to pull off, and I expect to become quickly bored of one man and his guitar. But Frank pulls the evening off in spectacular style. He carries us through myriad emotions through the raw energy of his songs, my favourites being ‘Worse Things Happen At Sea’ and ‘Long Live The Queen’. The latter is an extremely moving story of one of his friends who died a few years ago of cancer, and you can see that it still hurts very much for him to sing about her. However, the song is uplifting and up-tempo, and delivers a powerful message to live life to the full. At the risk of sound older than my years, it is so refreshing to listen to music where I can hear the lyrics clearly – there are far too many bands around who scream incomprehensibly. Frank’s music is pure and true, and delivered with a friendly tone, with plenty of light-hearted banter between songs. He plays a long set, which still isn’t long enough: when he announces his last song, someone in the audience shouts: ‘Stay all night!’.

Photo Of Gaslight Anthem © Copyright Helen WilliamsAfter a long break, Gaslight Anthem enter the stage. This is my first encounter with the four piece from New Jersey, and I’m not disappointed. I usually find that, the less I know a band when I see them live, the less I can appreciate them, but Gaslight Anthem are one of the few exceptions to this rule. Their songs are catchy (without being predictable) and the tunes are incredibly well written and performed. Aside from anything else, the band members’ natural charisma and obvious enjoyment of playing together is infectious, and you can’t help but smile along with them. Even though they are a relatively young band, they’re already very prolific – they released 2 full length albums in a little over a year – and if tonight is anything to judge by, their future will be full of success, too.

This is the first night of a 24 date tour that the three bands will be spending together, and they look set to give the crowd a good show, as well as having plenty of fun together (they all talk fondly about the other acts and come to watch their sets from the side of the stage). They offer a range of different styles, but suit each other well, and the small scale of the venues along the tour lend themselves well to a friendly, cosy atmosphere.

Polar Bear Club – 3/5
Frank Turner – 5/5
Gaslight Anthem – 5/5

Review By Helen Williams
 Gaslight Anthem

Brian Fallon (vocals, guitar)
Alex Levine (bass)
Benny Horowitz (drums)
Alex Rosamilia (guitar)

 Frank Turner

Frank Turner (Vocals)
Ben Lloyd (Guitar, Harmonica, Mandolin)
Tarrant Anderson (Bass)
Matt Nasir (Piano, Organ, Guitar, Vocals)
Nigel Powell (Drums, Percussion, Vocals)

 Polar Bear Club

Jimmy Stadt
Baby Goose
Nate Morris
Emmett Menke
Chris Browne

 Band Related Links
Gaslight Anthem Myspace
Frank Turner Myspace
Polar Bear Club Myspace
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?