Monday, 6 April 2009



There is definitely something about The Hold Steady that appeals to my Guided By Voices sensibilities along with the idea and concept of rocking out while also being a reckless grown up in the process. The Hold Steady are the brand of rock that God himself designed in a message/effort to insert some excitement back into guitar music and listening to their records or watching them live the enthusiasm of their music genuinely transmits to the listener in the form of energy and excitement.

This seventeen track live album documents the culmination of the busiest and most successful period of the band’s existence. The CD comes coupled with an exuberant DVD documentary that serves well to portray the Hold Steady live experience as being one of the most thrilling and earnest live shows of the past few years.

The DVD opens with footage of their lost weekend in London a couple of Januarys ago and having been present myself at the Saturday night Borderline show I was able to witness first hand the ferociously positive manner in which the set was delivered and how drunken and sweaty their performance could be. Personally for me it represented one of those perfect Saturday nights where party seemed/felt plausible and optimism flew high.

Opening with “Stuck Between Stations” by the close of the first song you can already sense and smell the emitting from their performance.

A Positive Rage is the perfect description of this band and the live experience attached to their existence. Somehow in his delivery Craig Finn manages to accomplish the feat of vocalising with both a smile and a sneer as he the method resembles more melodic speaking rather than conventional singing. The song topics sting and amaze, they are pretty bleak in content but also ablaze in some kind of resignation of that is how things are and this is the way to deal to with them. The optimistic cynicism of this band is the key to its existence and popularity, these may be dumb and primal songs musically but lyrically they border on genius.

As “Massive Nights” kicks in it is a true stadium rock display of celebrating a tangible club/house party. Here is a rock band steeped in with a tradition one foot in classic rock and another in hardcore. The licks are large and so is the ferocity.

The interaction between the band and the audience comes through on this album as basically the Hold Steady are one of those bands that just make you want to pick up a guitar and rock out but everyone knew that anyway already.

Thesaurus moment: efficacious.

The Hold Steady
Vagrant Records
Rough Trade Records
Frenchkiss Records

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