LIVE: Brian Fallon / Good Old War / Jared Hart @ KOKO, London

By Jess

When Brian Fallon announced that he would be touring the UK, tickets sold out within minutes – and this was before he’d even released any music from his stunning debut, ‘Painkillers’. As he said himself during the show, people could have bought tickets and been faced with him “telling dumb jokes for an hour and a half”.

Thankfully, it’s not (though it would probably go down storm regardless). To open proceedings, Jared Hart, better known as the frontman of New Jersey punk-rock outfit The Scandals, takes to the stage with his guitar. He cuts a lonely figure on such a big stage but he comfortably finds his feet within moments. Throughout the course of his half hour set, Jared’s voice soars and he breathes life into tracks such as ‘The Guillotine’ and ‘Totem’. From start to finish, he’s stunningly flawless and becomes a quick favourite with the early crowd.

It’s taken a while, but Pennsylvanian duo Good Old War have also been brought along for their first excursion to the UK. With some rather impressive dad-dancing skills, Keith Goodwin and Dan Schwartz come together to create beautiful harmonies in the form of ‘Broken Record’ and the sunny, optimistic ‘Small World’. They’re fun and quirky, and their blend of acoustic indie-pop goes down an absolute storm.

No matter if he’s been part of The Gaslight Anthem or The Horrible Crowes, Brian Fallon has always been a distinctive and accomplished songwriter. So when he released his debut solo effort in the form of ‘Painkillers’ earlier this year, it’s no wonder that critics and fans alike absolutely lapped it up.

Opening with a cover of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Video Games’, Brian Fallon immediately draws the crowd in with his kerosene-soaked vocals and refuses to let go of everyone’s attention for the duration of the night. During crowd-pleasers ‘Painkillers’ and ‘Nobody Wins’, he may sound more world-weary than before but he still remains positively upbeat when delivering these tracks; melodic riffs blend in with a solid bassline to bring these oddly uplifting tracks to a packed-out KOKO.

Without even asking, the crowd goes silent for ‘Steve McQueen’, something that Brian Fallon appreciates greatly and tells the crowd it’s the nicest thing that they could do for any artist. ‘Honey Magnolia’ is sugary sweet and ‘Among Other Foolish Things’ is jaunty. Tracks from The Horrible Crowes album are showcased, and ‘Sugar’ and ‘Black Betty and the Moon’ go down a treat, with every individual in the room clamouring to have their voice heard.

Throughout his set, Brian’s a charming and quirky frontman, stopping between tracks to have a hearty chat with the crowd as though they were down his favourite joint back in New Jersey, talking about life and days gone by. So it’s a shame when their final track ‘Behold the Hurricane’ comes round but it’s a fitting end. If Brian Fallon’s solo effort and the reaction his music garnered tonight is anything to go by, even solo he will become an unstoppable force.