The Hold Steady: Pearl Street, Northampton MA 12.15.06

The Hold Steady rocked and rolled their way through a tour closing set at Northampton Mass’ Pearl Street Nightclub, showing fans and critics alike why many of the folks “in the know” have begun crediting them as the “saviors of rock and roll.” On the heels of their semi-autobiographic release, Boys and Girls in America, the Hold Steady have been touring relentlessly, bringing their unique brand of modern/classic rock to their enthusiastic fan base. 

Beginning with the opening track on Boys and Girls, “Stuck Between Stations,” things got moving quickly, and it progressed from there as front man Craig Finn reached into the crowd, giving everyone in attendance a bold taste of his preternatural ability to connect with his audience and make them feel at home. As Finn worked his crowd-riling magic, his sidekick/lead guitarist, Tad Kubler, rocked the house with a double neck Gibson that created visual parallels to Jimmy Page, and all the other classic rock guitar gods whose influence on the Hold Steady is abundantly clear.

The highlight of the set came as the group tore into a “Party Pit,” with Finn belting his way through the song’s lyrics, telling the tale of drug-fueled adolescent love, while every enthusiastic boy and girl in the crowd sang along.  Building off the momentum, they worked their way through a few more choice selections before wrapping their formal set with “Southtown Girls”

Returning to the stage, the encore began with the group’s token ballad, “First Night,” before switching gears for “Killer Parties” and inviting a lucky fan on stage to take over guitar duties, while Tad and Craig engulfed the mic for some well-honed harmonies. When the new guitarist’s friends hopped on stage to rock with their buddy, full-force madness ensued as the stage began to fill with over a hundred fans. While audience members danced on stage, and even strummed along, the band closed the night on a note that couldn’t have hit higher.

Before it was all said and done, Finn commented to Glide that “the last night is always fun, because its so celebratory.” Driving that point home, the group’s keyboardist, Franz Nicoley, commented that “knowing this was the last show of the tour, we really threw it all out there.” By continuously “throwing it all out there,” saturating the market with catchy rock tunes that are driven from the heart, and making more top ten of 2006 lists than can be counted, the Hold Steady are showing the rock world what their fan base already knows. They’re not necessarily going to “save rock and roll,” but they’re definitely giving it a long needed jump-start.

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