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Light it up with Gaslight Anthem at the MGM Music Hall

The punkish Jersey rockers bring their comeback tour to Boston Oct. 4.

The Gaslight Anthem. Handout / Kelsey Ayres

When they were first getting off the ground in the mid-aughts, this post-punk outfit from New Jersey wasn’t shy about wearing their appreciation for their home state’s favorite son on their sleeve: The Gaslight Anthem’s breakthrough album, 2008’s “The ’59 Sound,” featured lyrical references to at least three Bruce Springsteen songs, “I’m On Fire,” “No Surrender,” and “Bobby Jean.” (Not to mention nods to Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Tom Petty, and Tom Waits that you can find without looking too hard.)

But far from being a tribute act, the band quickly moved beyond the sum of its influences — who, incidentally, also include the likes of The Replacements and The Clash and pioneering ska-punkers Operation Ivy. Lead singer Brian Fallon’s gravelly vocals proved the perfect vehicle for the group’s noirish, guitar-driven rockers about dead-end streets, long-lost loves and, of course, various darknesses on the edges of towns.


“It really does frustrate me, and it’s harder because I love Bruce Springsteen,” Fallon told NPR in 2016 about the endless associations people (i.e. music journalists) have made between him and the Boss. “And I don’t want to say anything negative about it, because I love him so much, musically and personally. But I don’t want to get lost — I don’t want my career to be lost in a Bruce Springsteen comparison.”

Nor should it: After The Gaslight Anthem went on hiatus in 2015, Fallon issued three solo albums that helped solidify his own, unique artistic vision, one that ties together punk attitude, classic rock rhythms, elements of folk and grunge, and vivid imagery that built upon the tail lights and burnt-out houses he sang about with the band. (“Lord, I worry when I get old I’ll be lonesome, chasing all the umbrellas in London,” he sings on “Watson,” a moody standout from 2018’s “Painkillers” that takes Fallon far from his native New Jersey.)

But now the band is back together, promising original material in the wake of the comeback tour that will take it to the new MGM Music Hall at Fenway on Oct. 4. And judging from the pre-pandemic shows they did to mark the 10th anniversary of “The ’59 Sound,” we can fully expect them to ratchet up their punkified energy.


“The presence of three guitars gave the performance a full sound that effortlessly filled the venue,” wrote UK music site The Upcoming about the group’s Hammersmith Apollo show in August 2018. “Throughout the night The Gaslight Anthem engaged in a symbiotic relationship with the crowd as they fed off each other’s energy and flagrant euphoria.”

And a little flagrant euphoria sounds pretty good right about now — after all, as Fallon sang on “Howl” off 2012’s “Handwritten,” there are worse things you can do than “blow it out come Friday night.” Er, or in this case, Tuesday.

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