The Hold Steady At The Spring & Airbrake Review

1 04 2011

As promised, for the next few days I’m gonna post up some reprints of different features/reviews/oddities I’ve done over the last few months. I like to keep things as varied as possible (hence why you’ll get features on black metal and the X Factor sitting side by side) so if you don’t have an open mind (and you don’t appreciate a good Vanessa Feltz joke) then skip on to something else.

Speaking of metal, next week sees the publication of some interviews I’m very proud of…but will blog about that once it’s released…

In the meantime, here’s a review of the recent show by the Hold Steady in Belfast that ran in Hot Press a few weks ago.

The Hold Steady at the Spring and Airbrake, Belfast

Touring in support of their fifth slab of wax Heaven Is Whenever, the crowd tonight for Brooklyn-based barroom rockers the Hold Steady looks a little bit like a group father and son outing gone wrong. On one hand we’ve got the older gents who are more than likely charmed by the headliner’s similarity to Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty during their pop rock 70s pomp and on the other we’ve got the younger ones who are probably experiencing the band’s brand of righteous rock ‘n’ roll for the first time live and in person. And yes, while this evening’s performance is a total dude-fest, there’s no question that the show’s going to be something special whatever your age bracket now that the boys are back in town again.

Kicking off with ‘Positive Jam,’ their sound is somewhat meatier than it has been since the last time we saw them (probably due to spending a lifetime on the road) but that’s no bad thing as it backs up frontman Craig Finn’s punk rock preacher man schtick perfectly as he tells us stories of romance and religion. Playing a selection of tracks culled from all five of their records, the likes of ‘Rock Problems’ and ‘Hurricane J’ raise the roof off the place. But that’s not to say that the Hold Steady can’t channel their inner jukebox Romeo every now and again and the swooning ‘We Can Get Together’ proves that the band has a brain (and more importantly a heart) behind all the bravado.

“It’s been eight years since we started this band,” concludes Hold Steady head honcho Finn from the stage of the beyond busy Spring and Airbrake, “and I have to say it’s the greatest job I’ve ever had.” And yes, while those words may seem a little hokey on paper, it’s hard to argue with the sentiment. As they sign of with the life affirming ‘Stay Positive’ and ‘Southtown Girls,’ it’s as clear as the inside of an empty whiskey bottle that tonight the frontman and his band gave it everything they’ve got to prove that nice guys don’t always finish last and we wouldn’t have expected any less of them. Top stuff.

Edwin McFee



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