Manchester Academy 2 - 26th February 2008
The Hold Steady
In the early hours of tomorrow morning there’ll be the biggest earthquake to hit the UK in a quarter of a century.
It only lasted about five seconds, but it was pretty exciting at the time and made me and my accomplice for this evening laugh.
One band that isn’t going to shake the world to its foundations are Glasgow’s The Haze, but they’ll give it a good go ‘cause they’re pretty bloody loud. Covering every notable moment in the history of lad rock, from Oasis (Liam-aping frontman James Cairns) through to The Fratellis (The curly-haired guitarist, stage left), with all the right references to The Who, Led Zep and baggy (Forthcoming single ‘Ghostdancer’). And who would have thought that white noise, which is what Cairns sounds like through the megaphone he uses on ‘Guns & Bullets’, could have a Glaswegian accent?
The Hold Steady, though, are a band that seems to inspire absolute devotion from the all-ages beered-up hoards here tonight. Not as beered-up as Craig Finn, mind, whose trademark drunken dancing-for-joy is as good as ever. And no matter how inebriated, he still outsmarts the audience members trying to second guess him on the spoken-word intro to ‘Hornets! Hornets!’ There’s plenty of songs taken from ‘Separation Sunday’ as well as ‘Boys & Girls in America’ this evening, with ‘Your Little Hoodrat Friend’ and ‘Multitude of Casualties’ pleasing the THS faithful in particular. The two new songs, ‘Constructive Summer’ and an untitled one, also hint at a return to the punk-rock undertones of earlier records and further nods to Hüsker Dü.
It’s the numbers off ‘Boys & Girls…’ that obviously go down best though, like the sentimental mush of ‘First Night’ (The start of a stellar encore which also includes ‘How A Resurrection Really Feels’ and a rapturous ‘Killer Parties’); while ‘Chips Ahoy!’ and ‘Stuck Between Stations’ are dream songs (Spot the John Berryman reference, poetry fans).
And then there was a mini-earthquake. Our world was rocked in every way.