The Hold Steady played a sold out 9:30 Club gig for the first time in awhile and as usual rocked. Last time they came through keyboard player Franz Nicolay was in tow and seemed sad while on stage. Then he quit the band. I was somewhat concerned they might be lacking without Nicolay, who was a big contributor, but the Hold Steady held steady, rocking out some old favorites and bringing in the new with rock anthem zest.
The newish group of musicians backing up Craig Finn and Tad Kuebler had a nice guitar infused mini-jam session on their oldest classic, Your Little Hoodrat Friend. One of the several things I agreed with tbd.com critic Andrew Beaujon in his review of the show is that Boys and Girls in America is the Hold Steady’s best album. It’s one of my all time favorites from any band, and undoubtedly the Hold Steady’s best, but I’m still hopeful the best is yet to come. Although they didn’t play Party Pit or Citrus from that album, they wholeheartedly ran through a bunch of other songs from it including Chips Ahoy, Massive Nights, Hot Soft Lights, and South Town Girls. There are also some great songs from their last two albums and they tapped in to a few of them including Stay Positive, Magazines, and Sequestered in Memphis from 2008’s Stay Positive and several others from this year’s Heaven is Whenever.
All in all, Finn looked dapper in his usual “just got done with my tech job” attire replete with dad jeans and glasses. His dancing was fantastically manic and loving as usual, guitar slung low like a toy, when he didn’t remove it to find his groove.
As usual the Hold Steady put out great songs, a great show, and a fun night. The opener, Wintersleep, had a crisp, indie pop sound, straight outta Canada, from where they hail. They’ve got some chops and could reasonably expected to blow up if they usually sound they way they did last night.
Though Franz Nicolay and his occasional accordion playing will be missed, the Hold Steady will go on and hopefully have many more massive nights.