The Hold Steady
23rd October, 2014
The Hold Steady close out their UK tour in Newcastle in style, a set filled with power, passion and excitement. Louder Than War’s Lee Hammond is blown away.
This evening sees The Hold Steady roll into Newcastle for the final night of their UK tour, first up there’s the small matter of support So So Glos. We arrive in time to catch the latter part of their set; they’re on fire this evening. Entering the venue we’re hit with this huge wall of sound, last shows of a tour can often be hit and miss.
However, this evening So So Glos play like it’s their first gig, never mind the first night of a tour. With incredible energy and passion they’re on top form and have the whole crowd bouncing around, before they take a bow and leave us waiting with bated breath.
The Hold Steady take to the stage to an emphatic reception, Craig immediately baiting the crowd whipping them up into frenzy. As he announces opener I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You sends the crowd wild, as the band rip through it. Similar to So So Glos you cannot tell that this is last show of the tour; the energy in the room is electric.
Craig’s rapport with his adoring fans is unreal, his lyrics may be deep and particularly heavy but the emphasis and excitement they create is incredible. The Swish rings out around the venue, its brutal guitars and Craig’s lyrics once again telling a great story. The way he constantly baits the crowd and interacts with them is unlike so many other bands, there’s often a barrier between fans and the band.
Such barrier is non-existent this evening as the band inject their collective heart and souls into their performance. You Can’t Make Him Like You really is The Hold Steady at their best a phenomenal narrative, which is delivered with such an impressive ferocity. It catches us off guard the themes that the band touch on are particularly deep but their delivery makes them so accessible.
First Night changes things down a little, but in a set packed with huge tracks it’s a welcome break, it allows Craig to show off his huge vocal and lyrical ability to its full potential. A softer spot which is short lived as Hot Soft Light rings out, the band are immediately back to their awesome brand of indie rock.
The Hold Steady keep the best in their locker right until the very end though as they close out their main set with three unbelievable tracks in succession. Kicking off this trio is The Weekenders, a track reeking of the phenomenal storytelling arguably the best track of the night. A track, which contains everything, that is great about the band, huge guitars, epic singalongs and wonderful lyrics.
Your Little Hoodrat Friend is absolutely huge, the ever present deep meaning and themes which so many bands shy away from or are a little more tentative about covering. The Hold Steady take them on at full force and this drug fuelled anthem has the entire crowd clapping along, once again the crowd has reached fever pitch and there is a real excitement in the venue.
However, this is only the warm up as band break into Stay Positive to close out their main set. They’ve truly saved the best for last as they deliver one last phenomenal indie rock ballad fuelled by their own inimitable style. Stay Positive is an anthem we should perhaps all be trying to live by, The Hold Steady certainly Stay Positive.
In a show which could have gone either way, The Hold Steady prove to us this evening that they’re quite clearly one of the greatest live bands around. It’s a performance in which the band gives every ounce of energy and excitement; it’s an amazing way to close out a tour. We leave the venue on a complete high in awe of the energy and excitement displayed this evening.
All words and pictures by Lee Hammond. You can check out more work by Lee by visiting his Louder Than War archive.