There was no shortage of talent to grace the Mann Center’s skyline stage on Friday, September 12th as a triple billing of rock bands made their way into town. The show, highlighted by picture perfect weather and the beautiful Mann Center views, featured performances by ‘Against Me!’, ‘Jimmy Eat World’, and ‘The Gaslight Anthem’.
Against Me! kicked off the show around 730pm. A decent sized crowd formed early on the hilltop at the Mann to check out the opening act and enjoy a drink or some grub from one of the food trucks parked on towards the back of the lawn. Against Me! is touring in support of their 2014 album “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” which is a nod to lead singer Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel) who is a transitioning transgender person.
While we were not overly familiar with the music of Against Me! prior to the show, we enjoyed what we heard. A few songs we recognized included “Don’t Lose Touch” and “Pints of Guinness Make You Stronger”. We spoke to several people who had come to the show especially to see Against Me!, and many of them were pressed up close to the stage, cheering and singing along to their raw, emotional songs.
After a quick set-break, it was time for Jimmy Eat World to take the stage. We’ve been big Jimmy Eat World fans for ages and we were really excited to catch them this time around after missing their last performance at the Mann Center. This was a tune-up of sorts for front man Jim Adkins and crew as they get ready to embark on their own headlining tour this fall (hopefully Tom Linton will be on the fall tour; he was absent from this show for some unknown reason).
There’s no better way to prepare for a tour than by working out all of your hit songs, and that’s exactly what Jimmy Eat World did on Friday night. They opened with “A Praise Chorus” before transitioning into “Big Casino”.
We enjoyed every single moment of Jimmy Eat World’s performance; from the beginning, to “The Middle”, to the end, the set was utter “Sweetness”. It seemed effortless, almost like they didn’t have to “Work” and just “Let It Happen”; that’s “My Best Theory” anyway. They took the time to show their fans “Appreciation” and it’s clear that the “Futures” still bright for Jimmy Eat World. On a scale of 1-10 we give their set a “23”.
After another short set-break, The Gaslight Anthem took the stage around 945pm. Before they began to play, lead singer Brian Fallon informed that crowd that, due to a family emergency, drummer Benny Horowitz wouldn’t be performing with the band that night, Atom Willard of Against Me! would be filling in, and they were going to do their best, so please bear with them. With that, they opened with “Stay Vicious”. The next ten songs included “Rollin’ and Tumblin'”, “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” (which Fallon said they hadn’t played in almost two years), “Great Expectations”, and a cover of “House of The Rising Sun”.
At this point, Fallon informed the crowd that because Atom Willard was only able to learn the songs they had played previously, the rest of the songs that night would be performed acoustically. Some fans seemed upset, others seemed thrilled, and we were just interested to get an impromptu look at The Gaslight Anthem: Unplugged.
The acoustic portion of the night included eight songs. It began with “Dark Places” and “Have Mercy” and wrapped up with “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts” and “1930”. The band promised the Mann Center crowd that they would be back in Philly before long and promised that their next performance would be much more loud. To be honest, we kind of dug the stripped down versions during the latter half of the performance and were happy that we had the chance to experience them (albeit we wish it hadn’t been because Horowitz was having a family emergency).
All in all it was another fantastic night at one of our all-time favorite concert venues in Philly (and beyond) and just another reminder that we need more rock music in our lives.
[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]
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You can check out an expanded photo gallery below (click images to enlarge):