It’s been an exciting month for the fans of Brian Fallon with the release of his remarkable new solo record Sleepwalkers and the anticipation to hear these songs performed live for the first time on his upcoming UK tour only grew stronger. Seeing all the fantastic responses from the first two shows at Kingston and Birmingham, I was buzzing as I jumped on a train to Manchester early Wednesday morning, ready to see Fallon doing his thing in one of my favourite music cities. I have seen the man perform on many occasions with The Gaslight Anthem as well as The Horrible Crowes, but what happened at The Ritz on Wednesday night was certainly one of the most memorable shows Brian has put on.
I was joined by two of my good friends and we made our way into the venue to watch the mighty Dave Hause open the night with his multi talented brother Tim. Starting with Shaky Jesus, the brothers drew in a big crowd with their impressive harmonies and instruments blending together graciously. The Manchester audience has never been too shy in sing-alongs and joined in with Dave during C’mon Kid and the atmosphere started to build up fast. It’s no secret Dave knows how deliver a stellar show. I’m forever impressed with his vocal abilities. A great mixture of songs not only from his latest record Bury Me In Philly, but also some previous gems including Autism Vaccine Blues, Time Will Tell and Revival Tour fan favourite Prague were echoing through The Ritz and we were enjoying every second of it. The Hause brothers also paid a moving tribute to the late Tom Petty with I Won’t Back Down before closing the set with With You. A huge applause of respect followed with mutual “wow” expressions on our faces, and we were all fired up for the main event.
It felt good to be back in Manchester. The Ritz was now fully packed with Fallon music enthusiasts sharing great vibes all around. The lights went down and the loud cheers kicked in. Brian and his band The Howling Weather hit the stage and the opening notes of A Wonderful Life filled the room together with the bouncing audience. Rosemary followed and the party was in full swing. Brian looked at its happiest as he moved around the stage, doing what he does best in a great company of his new, solid sounding band.
First up from the new record was Forget Me Not and it seemed that everyone was more than eager to accompany Fallon in screaming “Stacy” from the top of their lungs. The show consisted of not only Fallon’s musical abilities but also his extremely charming and funny in-between stories about his undeniable love for Manchester, the Gallagher brothers (especially Noel), dressing up for the occasion and his idea to take a photo of the crowd and send it to his celebrity friend, The Boss.
The Horrible Crowes favourite Ladykiller made us sway and swoon over its haunting melody and Fallon’s vocals, before we got to witness the excellence of If Your Prayers Don’t Get To Heaven and Come Wander With Me live for the first time. And so Brian then captured the spirit of his Manchester audience and shared it with Springsteen. We’ve heard since that The Boss replied and praised the city, and for very good reasons. The night was young and we still had a lot to look forward to. Fallon continued to give us one spectacular, energy packed performance after another with a colourful set of songs from both of his solo records as well as THC project including Red Lights, Little Nightmares, Painkillers, Sugar and Crush.
The singer-songwriter recently acquired some fine piano skills and looked confident as he sat down behind the keys and together with The Howling Weather delivered a worthy live version of Sleepwalkers as we all moved from side to side to the sweet rhythm. One track that has probably gotten the most hype after the new record release is the soul stirring Etta James which sounded as astonishing as we expected. Among Other Foolish Things, Smoke and Behold The Hurricane followed before Brian disappeared and appeared a few seconds later with an acoustic guitar to give us an encore we shall not easily forget.
“One for me, two for you” he said and I suspected then he was going to play no other than his Bob Dylan favourite Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right and boy, did he do it justice. Fallon then sat down behind the keys one more time, played and joked around before he hit the notes of a familiar sound, The ’59 Sound. If up to then The Ritz crowd was having a marvellous time, what followed was simply one of most incredible moments an artist can share with his devoted fans. It felt as there was not a single soul in the room who did not chant each and every word out loud with Fallon, and the atmosphere and connection among us all was truly one of a kind. Brian looked emotional and touched by the whole experience and classed is a highlight of his life. He then closed the show with the fitting See You On The Other Side and left the stage with a huge smile and gratitude on his face and loud, long lasting applause from his Manchester audience.
Review by Eva Jostakova
All photos by Simon Brown – View full Brian Fallon gallery