November 16, 2016
O2 Forum Kentish Town, London
“All the music you like, even if it is American, is kinda still English”
This recognition of British influence on modern music led to an Oasis cover; Don’t Look Back in Anger (a nice change from Wonderwall, the typical touring band’s cover of choice).
Brian Fallon was referring to rock and punk, but British roots also underpin Americana and that was the sound floating around the Forum as he performed with The Crowes. They began the show with a languorous solo leading into the title track of Fallon’s excellent solo record, Painkillers, and later a haunting pedal steel sound in Honey Magnolia, then the quiet beauty of Open All Night.
Time and time again, Fallon’s lyrical focus was key. Like Counting Crows, he has the ability to make you nostalgic for a place you’ve never been and that may no longer exist.
Nevertheless, Brian Fallon fans aren’t stuck in the past. There was no sense of pining for Gaslight Anthem songs. The crowd was elated to hear cuts from The Horrible Crowes side-project, and were aching to hear Fallon’s solo work.
Fans clapped along exuberantly to Nobody Wins, singalongs turned to a shoutalong for Mojo Hand and huge grins and spontaneous air guitar broke out for LadyKiller.
With each passing show Fallon seems more at ease with chatting to a packed crowd. Any nerves were hidden, replaced with an entertaining stream of consciousness. Here’s what we learned:
- His job title for government forms: “typewriter struggler”
- Relationship advice: “you go out with a new dude, he’s got two phones? Leave.”
- Controversial musical preferences: “I like Chuck D better than Elvis”
- His description of The Dropkicks Murphys: “God’s favourite band if God’s from Boston”
- His favourite British treats: Chocolate Buttons
The electric reaction to Smoke was finally topped by the rapturous response to the final song, A Wonderful Life – surely a contender for song of the year. A fitting way to close a straightforward, honest rock show with Americana tones and whimsical banter all mixed up into one very entertaining evening.
“One more very, very sad song then I’ll kick it back up to perceived happiness”
Florida’s Chris Farren was tasked with playing above a buzz of chatter to a half empty venue, not helped by emergency closures on both train lines delaying those that might be willing to give support acts a fair go.
Farren was unconcerned – he’d come prepared with a pedal set up to offer rapturous applause on demand.
Farren showed his skill on downbeat ballads. However, it was his determination to “make the rock moment happen” in the epic tracks that won the crowd over.
It was the whole package – not just theatrical rock moves, no-holds-barred vocal work and 80s new wave influences, but also banter delivered with enough of a grin to stay on the right side of egotistical: “I’ve got a new record – everybody loves it….if you don’t, something’s wrong with you!”
It’s the supremely confident cheeky approach that’s gained him a social media following even amongst those that haven’t heard his music. Yet.
Farren played like he’s ready for the big time and with unshakeable perseverance that you can’t help but admire, don’t bet against him making it happen through sheer force of will.
Chris Farren’s studio album Can’t Die is out now. Like A Gift From God Or Whatever, his alternative Christmas album featuring friends such as Jenny Owen Youngs, is available for $5 at Bandcamp – a donation for every download in December 2016 will go to The Amputee Coalition.
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