Mar 9, 2011

The Hold Steady @ Metro Theatre

A Hold Steady show isn't a concert. It's a celebration. It isn't a performance. It's a justification for music and life. It isn't just guitars and song. It's life. Blood and bone. Tuesday night at a less then full Metro (they aren't a buzz band anymore), everyone's favourite party band, The Hold Steady, rocked and rolled for over an hour and a half. They crammed a lot of music into that time, with nary a break between songs. It was ferocious, fun and satisfying. I don't think this band knows any other way to perform. But there was something slightly missing. Something that made this show less then perfect. I will get to this shortly.

The Hold Steady burst on stage to their acolytes and proceeded to tear into "Constructive Summer", followed without pause by "Hot Soft Light", a pretty damn good flying start. "Hurricane J" followed, which was pleasing as it is definitely my favourite song ffrom their somewhat disappointing latest album. We then received "Girls Like Status", which includes a shout out to The Mountain Goats. This pleased my girl no end. Soon we reached a slight plateau though. The pedestrian "Rock Problems" slowed the momentum a bit and "Magazines" didn't really help the situation. This made me reflect and I realised what was missing. Keyboards! Of course longtime piano man Franz Nicolay left the band in 2010 and I thought that it would be automatic that his role would be replaced. But the band recruited Steve Selvidge (Lucero) to fill the gap on guitar. No doubt he can wield the axe, but I don't really think this band needed more guitars. Keyboards were a major component of so many THS songs. They added nuance and light to the various melodies. Of course the songs still have great melodies and the masterful lyrics of Craig Finn, but I felt there was a thudding approach to many songs. Such as "First Night", which was awesome, but the midsection just cried out for piano. Tad Kubler played the part with mastery on guitar, but it just wasn't the same. The classic "Stevie Nix" was still a major highlight, but even it missed that little element. Not withstanding this, it was a strong finish to the night. "Chips Ahoy", "Stuck Between Stations", Sequestered In Memphis" and "Massive Nights" were all barn burners. I was hoping for "Slapped Actress" in the encore, but it was hard to complain with a closing great in "How A Resurection Really Feels". I have to emphasize this is a great band and this was a great show. The band are supremely tight and Craig Finn is a walking ball of energy and lives and breathes energy into each and every song. It was hard not to have fun. It's just that there was something slightly missing at its core. Something that was missed and not totally replaced.

Set List
Constructive Summer
Hot Soft Light
Hurricane J
Girls Like Status
The Swish
Rock Problems
You Can Make Him Like You
Barfruit Blues
Your Little Hoodrat Friend
Chips Ahoy!
Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night
Stuck Between Stations
Sequestered In Memphis
First Night
Southtown Girls
The Weekenders
Massive Nights
Stevie Nix
Most People Are DJs

Stay Positive
How A Resurrection Really Feels


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