Dublin’s Olympia Theatre is already heaving as support act Chris Farren takes to the stage armed only with a guitar, a sample box full of tricks and an infectious level of exuberance. Enchanting the crowd with his stage presence, genre straddling cannon of songs and charismatic patter he certainly left the stage with a lot more fans than he had walking on. So often support acts just plod through there set neither selling themselves or warming up the crowd sufficiently, not so tonight as the crowd is tuned in from the start. Even the barflies are out early.
Enter Brian Fallon, brown vintage leather jacket, drain pipe jeans, black loafers and.. white socks. It’s just as well he’s in a band.
It’s a testament to his popularity in Ireland that he’s filling the Olympia off the back of his first proper solo record. He’s backed by a five-piece band which means, including Fallon, there are up to four guitars on some songs, creating a massive wall of sound. Powerful and immediate but beautifully fleshed out with two 12 string guitars used to excellent effect, particularly on ‘Nobody Wins’. There’s a country feel to 2015’s Painkillers which is enhanced on the night. Fallon’s song writing appeals to the Irish sing-a-long tradition, his solo rendition of ‘Smoke’ rouses the crowd into harmonious unison.
Fallon is so often compared to Bruce Springsteen because of the New Jersey connection but tonight smacks more of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Draped in a red Les Paul, his tool of choice for most of the evening, backed by his nuts and bolts rhythm section laying down the foundation for each song Fallon is a man at work, laying the bricks, doing the job.
The ease of his interaction with the crowd adds another dimension to the performance. He regales the audiences with stories of dentistry and enthusiastic bed breaking “I like the simple things. Cars and girls, breaking beds and drinking beer.” Effortlessly dealing with an irate Swedish heckler, initially with patience followed quickly by a good old fashioned scolding he rouses the crowd.
On the evidence of tonight there will always be an audience here for the wares Fallon peddles. Well-constructed songs with evocative, romantic lyrics, our bread and butter. It’s also striking on the night the broad age range in the crowd, people in their 50s, maybe even 60s, and even a couple of kids no older than nine. Ireland is fertile for seed and song, Fallon will no doubt be back time and time again to oblige.