The Hold Steady, The Vasco Era, No Through Road @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne (02/02/09)


4 Feb 2009, 12:56

Mon 2 Feb – The Hold Steady, The Vasco Era, No Through Road

‘We are glad to be in Australia, we are glad to be in Melbourne, and we are glad to be at a rock club!’ declared The Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn to an enthusiastic audience holding their long-necks in the air. The headline act of the touring Laneway Festival had sold out Richmond’s Corner Hotel and grabbed the crowd by their collective genitalia. Along for the ride were local supports No Through Road and The Vasco Era but from start to finish it was all about The Hold Steady.

Opening the Corner’s side stage were Adelaide natives No Through Road. Frontman and band founder Matt Banham looked dapper in a collared shirt and tie, but his stage antics came off more like Las Vegas style lounge singer. The five piece band played inoffensive pop rock songs with the theme of love which were technically good, if not a tad dull. Urging the crowd to get closer to the stage, Banham asked audience members sitting on the main stage ‘how long would your bladders hold out’ before inviting them to ‘piss all over this act if you want’. Track Steph’s Song see-saws between catchy and annoying seeing Banham send himself dizzy by swirling a microphone around during the song’s guitar solo. The band was politely clapped off stage as most headed towards the bar.

Over at the main stage were three piece The Vasco Era whose on-stage performance was intense, with the three piece clearly slamming down the energy drinks pre-set. Bass player Ted O’Neil thrashes his instrument whilst spinning circles on stage and drummer Michael Fitzgerald has drumstick cup to the right of his cymbals, just in case his sticks go flying with the brutal force he smacks the skins with. The set was not without its problems with multiple stoppages taking place while Sid O’Neil wrestled with his guitar straps and changed the setlist between tracks. It even had a bit of comedy with Sid asking the audience which Hold Steady album is their best. When a punter answered ‘they’re all fucking great!,’ Sid responded ‘Wow I bet you can’t wait for us to get fucking off then.’ The response drew many laughs, but with a packed room ready to see the evening’s headliners, you couldn’t help thinking it was true. A good set that could have been great.

There’s was so much to describe about The Hold Steady’s set that you could write a J.R.R. Tolkien sized novel, so let’s just stick to the highlights, yeah? Opening with Stuck Between Stations, it became extremely evident how much Craig Finn prides himself in performance. So many frontmen sing lyrics, so badly and some well, but Finn is an animated storyteller spreading tales of debauchery and sin to the appreciative audience. Finn pops away from his microphone mouthing answers to the various questions he puts forward in each song, whilst people point at his face and sway backwards and forwards to The Swish, hanging on to every word for One For The Cutters.

By the time guitarist Tad Kubler plays the opening bars of favourite Chips Ahoy!, the crowd is roaring with joy, not just singing the chorus but the entire song not even allowing for Finn to catch up as he lags a few seconds behind. Finn performs the entire song with a massive smile on his face, just as he does for many songs precluding and preceding it and it’s obvious that he is one guy who doesn’t go home of an evening hating his job. ‘We take a lot of pride in how we play live’, he tells the audience before asking them to name some bands from his hometown city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. They yell out names such as The Replacements and Atmosphere, and the band uses it as an excuse to play Southtown Girls.

Despite Craig Finn taking up most of the spotlight to a point where you wonder if a better name for the band would be “Craig Finn and The Hold Steady,” the other members did get a chance to shine, if for a brief moment. Tad Kubler pulled out something that hasn’t been seen in rock music since the days of the hair metal – the double neck guitar and performed a solo on its bottom neck during set closer Lord, I’m Discouraged and keyboard player Franz Nicolay had one of his own on encore track Stevie Nix. For many, the final track How A Recession Really Feels was the only time the audience seemed disappointed, but it was disappointment on a great set being over.

‘All good things must come to an end’, declared Finn as a nearby crowd member high-fived other crowd members. Finn was dead right – the almost 100 minute long set was top class display of how good modern rock can get in a live venue. Finn continued talking, explaining he was going to give the audience what his friends refer to as a blessing. ‘Melbourne, Australia; Brooklyn, New York; we are all The Hold Steady.’ It may have been the second of February, but the Hold Steady would be on top of the ‘Best Live Shows in 2009’ lists for many attendees of the show, this writer included. To say otherwise would be admitting that you don’t like live music.

Copyright 2009 - FasterLouder/The Sound Alliance. The following cannot be republished.
Envíos aceptados


Dejar un comentario. Entra en o regístrate (es gratis).