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The Gaslight Anthem returns to The Paramount with renewed purpose

The Gaslight Anthem perform “Here’s Looking at You, Kid” during a concert on May 26. The New Jersey rockers played at The Paramount in Huntington, N.Y. as they wrap up their spring tour. JACK POGGIOREALE/THE STATESMAN

A solid chunk of The Gaslight Anthem’s 90-minute barnstormer of a concert on Friday was dedicated to frontman Brian Fallon’s semi-coherent ramblings and lighthearted jabs towards an adoring audience in Huntington, N.Y.

Fallon took time to explain why “Storm Front” is actually the quintessential Billy Joel album, barter for clothing accessories from the crowd, and jokingly remind fans at the nearly sold-out Paramount theater that they were “suckers” for paying to see him play. He couldn’t even make it through “Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts” without pausing to laugh at the chaos he’d created. 

It all resulted in the perfect atmosphere for the penultimate show of the band’s national tour: more love and warmth than any of the hard-edged emotions each raucous punk track might have otherwise called for.

It’s been a long time since The Gaslight Anthem was a full-time band. The group last played The Paramount in July 2015 and declared days later that they would be taking an indefinite hiatus. But the New Jersey rockers returned to a full touring schedule last year and announced they had begun writing their sixth studio album. 

All four core members are back: Fallon, guitarist Alex Rosamilia, bassist Alex Levine and drummer Benny Horowitz, along with touring members Ian Perkins and Bryan Haring. And on Friday, Fallon promised that even more “surprises” are in store for this year.

All that time away seems to have only made the band stronger. They sounded tighter than ever during an 18-song, career-spanning set that featured a perfect mix of deep cuts and longtime staples. This balance was apparent from the start, as the delicate, rarely-played “The Queen of Lower Chelsea” transitioned into the blistering intro of “45.”

Fallon’s once crystal-clear vocals have become gravelly and hardened over time, yet somehow carry even more emotion than ever before. His cries for lost love in “Halloween” contained an anguish that the studio version lacks, and his altered delivery brought a new element of melancholy to “Old White Lincoln.” The crammed GA section shouted back every lyric, even for lesser-known tracks. 

At times, some wear and tear on Fallon’s voice was apparent. Having played 17 shows since May 1, he seemed unwilling to belt out the climax of fan-favorite ballad “Mae.” But for the most part, Fallon lived up to his promise to the crowd that they were at an “amazing gig,” with his deafening growl on “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” among the night’s highlights.

Songs from “The ‘59 Sound” — the 2009 album that propelled The Gaslight Anthem to stardom and remains their magnum opus — unsurprisingly got the biggest reactions, with “Great Expectations” earning the loudest pop of the night. The record’s title track is just as rousing as it was upon its release and remains one of the great rock songs of the 21st century.

Back-to-back selections from debut album “Sink or Swim” garnered a slightly less vigorous response. But by returning to those rougher tracks, The Gaslight Anthem proved they have not forgotten their punk roots.

The Gaslight Anthem will open for Misfits at the Prudential Center on July 8. Their fall tour kicks off in September, though no shows in the New York area have been announced yet.

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