On a night where they’re competing with the Welsh rugby team for punters, there’s a worry that The Gaslight Anthem could play their joint largest ever show to a half-full room.
Indeed, during openers Bayside’s angst-punk set, the throng was barely ten deep with many electing for the seating at very back of the arena. The veteran New Yorkers pound through a half-hour set characterised by earnest vocals and squalling guitar solos, the highlight being the mellower ‘Mona Lisa’, showcasing frontman Anthony Ranieri’s vocal ability.
Coinciding with the first influx of boozed up rugby fans, Rhode Island rockers Deer Tick’s set catches the crowd’s interest with a gritty blend of good time rock ‘n’ roll that shows off their versatility. From a twelve bar blues romp to a ‘Replacements’ cover via Dylan-esque melodies and a wild saxophone solo, Deer Tick win a fair few new fans tonight.
Arriving onstage with no fanfare, The Gaslight Anthem bizarrely, but brilliantly, begin with ‘Have Mercy,’ a rare B-side from their latest album; it’s a low-key, husky croon which paves the way for juggernaut ’The ’59 Sound’. Their congregation swollen by the rowdy latecomers, the New Jersey five-piece set to work on a mammoth set that dips in and out of all of their releases.
Skilled lighting technician aside, there’s none of the histrionics associated with arena shows on display here. Gaslight let their songs do the talking and, lucky for them, they have bags of them. Bayside’s Raneri returns to duet on a lung-busting rendition of ‘Great Expectations’, pared back to the bare bones of Brian Fallon’s fingerpicked guitar and heartfelt lyrics.
Two hours and thirty songs later, The Gaslight Anthem blast out of Cardiff with a euphoric ‘The Backseat’, having bravely and successfully rocked an arena audience without compromising the style they honed in clubs across the globe.