Almost exactly 20 years to the day from their first show, in the same venue, The Hold Steady celebrated their 20th anniversary as a band on January 28th. Back then, the current Music Hall of Williamsburg was known as North Six, and the band had a few different members, but this night had a lot of similarities to the group’s debut with a focus on older and lesser-played tunes.
The current lineup of Craig Finn – vocals, guitar, Tad Kubler – guitar, Galen Polivka – bass, Bobby Drake – drums, Franz Nicolay – keys, Steve Selvidge – guitar, have been rising high over the last few years with targeted tours and new albums, but tonight was predominantly about looking back, including starting it off with a “Positive Jam”. The first song from their first album eased out (after a poignant “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” intro) as the group and sold-out crowd revved up the energy and mutual love.
Fan favorite “The Swish” and the ultra-rare “Curves and Nerves”, both from the band’s debut Almost Killed Me, were met with cheers; that complete album and all of the B-sides were played on this night. Throughout the evening Finn took time to address the crowd and tell stories about their first show, the journey of individual band members, and memories from the group’s long career.
“Stuck Between Stations” delivered huge crescendos slamming into the ’50s influenced dance rock of “You Gotta Dance (With Who You Came to the Dance With)” which was highlighted by Nicolay’s harmonica solo. The group harkened back to the first song they ever wrote, “Knuckles” as the crowd clapped along, before a killer blast of their powerful rocker “Constructive Summer”. The slow pulsing wah-wah guitar work highlighted another rarity, “Milkcrate Mosh” which began with another story from Finn, who broke out the air quotes and riffs for “Sequestered In Memphis”.
The lesser-played song, “Hot Fries” was aired to the receptive fanbase as the old tunes continued with the Celtic-flavored “Modesto Is Not That Sweet”. The night wasn’t all retro-based as their new single “Sideways Skull” from an upcoming album The Price of Progress was played with energetic joy. The focus on throwback tunes returned with “Sweet Payne” which found Selvidge ripping a monster solo to close before the confetti flew during “Your Little Hoodrat Friend” while the set-closing “Most People Are DJ’s” gave the bass and drums of Polivka and Drake space to get loose.
The encore on the night began with Nicolay’s piano as the central star on “Certain Songs”. A highlight jam emerged in “Chips Ahoy!” led by Kubler before the night wrapped up with more confetti as “Killer Parties” ended a night that reveled in the band’s past as they look to continue their bar-band-made-good career well into the future.
beatles cover? No.. it was the Beatles.
The review says Intro, not cover.