The Gaslight Anthem at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, IL

The Gaslight Anthem received a warm welcome at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago as they return to the road after a lengthy hiatus.

Back in 2015, The Gaslight Anthem was feeling the pressure of a meteoric rise, constantly being pushed to record and tour, record and tour. In July of that year, they announced they would be going on an indefinite hiatus following their remaining touring commitments. It’s no wonder they were starting to feel burnt out and the pressure being piled on them after everything they had achieved in such a short period of time, including, of course, the well-publicized performances with Bruce Springsteen. In 2018, they temporarily reunited to celebrate the 10th anniversary of The ’59 Sound with a string of shows. While fans were hoping that was the door opening to their welcome return, alas it was not and they’d have to wait a few more years for that to happen. 

At least there is one thing that we can thank Covid for. With bands all being off the road for an extended and unknown length of time, Brian Fallon got to thinking and reminiscing and decided that maybe they did have something more to say and offer as a band. Fast forward to March 2022, and The Gaslight Anthem announce they have returned to “full time status.” Not only that, unlike the anniversary shows, this time they had started writing their sixth studio album which will be released in 2023. In August, the tour began in Europe before the headed Stateside in September. 

The GA section of the Riviera Theatre was busting at the seams as everyone tried to cram as close to the front as they could. The days of social distancing were long forgotten as person after person managed the squeeze themselves into the compact area. Just when you thought no one else could possibly fit in, another group of optimistic fans rose to the challenge and seemed to disappear into the section. 

After that amount of time away from touring, there may have been a niggling thought in the back of their minds of after all this time, will people still come out to see us? The answer was clearly a resounding yes. The tension was palpable as The Riv waited in anticipation for them to take to the stage. At approximately 9.20 PM, their prays were answered as the New Jersey boys took to the stage under the shroud of darkness. As they kicked off the show with “Have Mercy,” you could barely see them except as silhouettes spread out across the stage. Luckily, by the time they performed “Old White Lincoln,” the stage lights began to illuminate the band. 

Their set comprised of songs from the last four albums, with the majority of them coming from The ’59 Sound. “National Anthem,” “Great Expectations,” and “Handwritten” were all listed on the setlist on the stage, but for whatever reason were not actually performed on the night. However, the setlist could have been made up of any combination of their songs tonight and  the fans would still have been excited to be there and that the hiatus didn’t turn into a full dissolution of the band as is often the case in these situations.  

After the third song of the evening, Brian Fallon did not just say “Hello, Chicago!” Instead, he chatted for a good long while, including about Chicago pizza. Whether this was just typical show banter or nervous energy, we’ll never know, but it is always appreciated when bands take the time to interact with the audience, rather than just bang through the songs and leave the stage. 

They say that rock is dead, and yet again, here is another show to prove that is not the case at all. There is clearly more that The Gaslight Anthem have to say and they certainly have ears waiting to hear what that is. It was great to get to hear these songs and for them to sound as fresh as when they were first released. However, since they’ve had their time away and had their own solo projects, it’s likely that the follow-up to Get Hurt may have a different sound to it. They’re older and the world is now a very different place than it was even just in 2014 when they released Get Hurt. But it’s all speculation until we get to hear the new material. Until then, enjoy the fact that they are back to “full time status.” We’re excited to see what lies ahead. 

The tour runs through until October 8 so be sure to grab those last few tickets while you still can.

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About Kirstine Walton 380 Articles
Kirstine moved from the UK to Chicago in 2011, and has fallen in love with the city and its music scene. She enjoys combining her two biggest passions – music and photography. If there is a band with a guitar playing, chances are she’ll be there…camera in hand. Kirstine went to her first live concert at 7 years old, and hasn’t looked back since!