Brian Fallon – Troy Music Hall – November 15th – Review
Written by Staff on November 17, 2023
Brian Fallon @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall 11-15-23 – by Ed Conway.
It was singer/songwriter night at the venerable Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. I generally think of a solo performer as a small venue act, as a large venue generally lacks the intimacy of the audience being up close and personal. Like every generalization, there are exceptions, and this show was one of them. Brian Fallon, usually with a band called Gaslight Anthem, proved to be up to the task of shrinking the space and making the audience feel up close and personal. While his easy-going personality could have done it with just songs, he also wielded a great sense of humor and was able to disarm a hecker as well as any comedian I’ve ever seen. Early in the show, he spotted a young boy in the front row carrying a sign which prompted him to call for a Sharpie from an unseen tech person and wrote out a long dedication to the youngster regarding his show didn’t count as a rock concert, because there were no drums, and his parents definitely owe him one. The young man then became an unwitting partner in crime as Fallon would use him for asides regarding life’s foibles for the rest of the evening.
Opening his hour and a half set with “Steve McQueen,” Fallon ran through a 15 song set alternating between songs and some hilarious stories and one liners, and always coming back to the aforementioned partner. The audience also bounced between rapt listening to such soul searching songs like “Long Drive” and “Lonely For You Only,” as well as, raucously laughing at his stories. While most of the set was his originals, he did do a couple of covers, although I’m not sure Gaslight Anthem’s “Great Expectations” qualifies as a cover, but he did cover Tom Petty’s “Trailer” from Petty’s last studio album Mudcrutch 2. As the evening was winding down, Fallon told the audience that once he walked off the stage that would be it and he wouldn’t do an encore, or as he called it “play peek-a-boo.” He then dedicated the next song to the young man in the front row, “You’ve Stolen My Heart” which gained a huge reaction from the audience. Finishing off the evening with “Smoke,” Fallon was true to his word, waving to the crowd, he wandered off into the sunset as the house lights came up.
Opening the show was another singer/songwriter, Jonathan Francis. His short set consisted of barely a half hour, but during that time, he did his job and warmed up the audience. He seemed genuinely surprised by the audience sitting and actually listening to every one of his songs. There was no loud background cacophony like their last show in Pennsylvania where, as he put it, the conversations were louder than the PA. As he walked off the stage at the end of his set, he seemed pleased that his songs landed well and invited everyone back to the merch booth to meet him.
The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall is world renowned as having some of the best acoustics in the world allowing Fallon to play with it as he spoke into the mic and then stepped off and said a few words nearly just as clear as through the PA. As I mentioned earlier regarding large venues and solo performers, TSBMH makes the perfect place for this kind of performance. It may seat over 1000 people, these people are there to listen, except maybe that one guy also mentioned earlier helping the vulnerability of the singer. I once heard someone say “If you can’t perform by yourself, you can’t perform with a band” alluding to making sure of your ability as a band won’t fix bad mechanics. I look at it another way too. At least in Fallon’s case, after performing with a band, you can feel naked and outnumbered when you step out on your own, and the audience embraced both performers and hopefully made the feel welcome. As we were leaving, we ran into Jason Keller whose friend summed up Fallon’s performance as a cross between Seinfeld and Springsteen, while that may be a bit grandiose and I can’t disagree.