Archive for the 'the hold steady' Category

The Indie Cred November Gig Run-Down

Right, I know we’ve gone quiet here over the last month. You’ll have to excuse us a bit. Our relatives over the pond have had some rather distressing things going on so we’ve been away for a bit and focused on other stuff since we returned. We have, however, been to a few really great gigs recently which have proved far more than a welcome distraction from things.

We enjoyed Fleet Foxes at the Academy 2 on November 9th, although we were rather jetlagged so we stood right at the back and heard more than we saw. The harmonies sounded fabulous as always. We were back down at Club Academy on the 18th to see Low play their Christmas gig. The first half of the set was mesmerising and the second half – all Christmas carols – was surprisingly good. They were accompanied by the opening band (who were pretty good too) and it was quite a celebration – especially for a Low gig.

For a complete change of pace we went to see Fucked Up at the Roadhouse and their ear-splitting hardcore and jovial attitude was intense and highly enjoyable. They’re so much more than just a noisy hardore band. Their opening act was great as well, although I didn’t catch their name – they sounded like all the best bits of Guided By Voices, Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du and the Pixies.

Tuesday the 24th of November was Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds night down at the Apollo. Nick Cave is many things but boring is never one of them. The band were on fine form and delivered an angry, noisy set with, well, many of my favourites. I enjoy “God is in the House” more every time I see it live and “Red Right Hand” and “Stagger Lee” were spectacular as well. “I Call Upon the Author” was a welcome new addition, even if he did truncate it a bit. Opener Joe Gideon and the Shark were quite a revelation. Forget the fact that they had some great Fall-inspired tunes, the Shark was great to watch on stage.

We followed up Nick Cave with Frightened Rabbit at Moho Live. The less said about this one the better. I was exhausted and falling asleep on my feet as they didn’t go on stage til midnight and the sound was awful. Pity because they’re a great band and I’m pretty sure that The Midnight Organ Fight will be in The Ledge’s top 10 albums of 2008, I haven’t worked mine out yet – it could make that list too.

Sunday, November 30th saw us down at the Manchester Evening News Arena for Leonard Cohen. While it wasn’t as good a gig as the one we saw at The Opera House over the summer, it was still fabulous and he’s finally stopped introducing the band every 3 minutes. “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “So Long Marianne” and “Tower of Song” were divine and listening to him perform “Hallelujah” with so much heart makes me wonder how Simon Cowell dare defile it by forcing his new pop muppet to cover it in time for Christmas.

On 4th December we were back at the Roadhouse for A Place to Bury Strangers, Ten Kens and Lowline. We were only really familiar with Ten Kens. Lowline were worse than expected sounding at times like Oasis covering Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and at other times like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club covering Oasis. Mostly they were non-descript and extremely boring. Ten Kens have put out a great album recently and I was really looking forward to them so I was bitterly disappointed to find that the muddy, murky sound in the Roadhouse really ruined any chance we had of enjoying their performance. They were trying hard in front of a crowd that were disinterested (except for one guy punching the air in the front row – you know who you are and you know we know who you are, even if you didn’t notice us on the night and we were being anti-social). They have what can only be described as a very full sound, there’s few gaps, and the distortion caused by the volume being too high and the mix being all wrong meant it just sounded a mess and it was hard to tell which song was which. We were exhausted and grumpy and left, not bothering to watch A Place to Bury Strangers.

Saturday 6th December was the welcome return of The Wedding Present who always deliver a good show. I quite like their newest album, although The Ledge is underwhelmed by it, but we both had fun jumping about to some classics and to some new tracks. Plus they finally did a Cinerama song off their first album – which is my favourite Cinerama album. The opening band, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were charming enough that we bought their album. On the night they sounded like the perfect accompaniment to The Wedding Present’s jangly guitars. On record they’re more like Belle & Sebastian gone C86. Either way is not a bad way to be.

This week, on 10th December we’ve been over to the Academy 1 to see The Hold Steady, who were on fine form yet again with a brilliant set – far better than the gig they did at the Academy 2 earlier in the year, in fact. Pity the ever-growing crowd is also growing ever less agreeable – 2 days later and I still have bruised ribs from the couple who trampled and physically removed a 7 stone girl from beside me and tried to do the same to me. However, the band were faultless and new tracks such as “One for the Cutters” and “Magazines” slot in well next to old classics like “Positive Jam” and “Charlemagne in Sweatpants.”

Then last night , 11th December, I drove over the Pennines to see James at the Leeds Academy (formerly the Town & Country) deliver a rather unusual but highly enjoyable set. It was great to hear “Stutter” dragged out from the depths of the back catalogue and I’m still surprised by how much I love their new material.

So, that’s us mostly caught up. We will be producing some top 10 lists before the end of the month and hopefully back to business as usual sometime in January. The Ledge might even force himself to review the Stereolab gig he’s going to see next week. Maybe.

The Hold Steady Reschedule UK Tour for December

According to an email from Rough Trade, The Hold Steady have rescheduled their UK tour for December. Hurrah!

October dates were cancelled when guitarist Tad Kubler contracted Pancreatitis (ouch!), but he’s on the mend and they’re coming back once they’ve completed the rounds in North America. Here’s the dates:

  • 7-Dec Sheffield Leadmill
  • 8-Dec Oxford Academy
  • 9-Dec Nottingham Rock City
  • 10-Dec Manchester Academy
  • 12-Dec Bristol Anson Rooms
  • 14-Dec Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
  • 15-Dec Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
  • 17-Dec London Roundhouse
  • 18-Dec Glasgow Glasgow SECC
  • 20-Dec Dublin The O2
  • 21-Dec Belfast Odyssey Arena

And just for fun, so you too can celebrate, a couple of songs:

The Hold Steady – Knuckles

The Hold Steady – Killer Parties

Posted by JustHipper on 4th October 2008 at 3:15 pm | comments (0)
File under mp3,News,the hold steady.

The Manchester Gig Guide: 29th September – 5th October 2008

Another exciting week is on the cards with the annual In The City festival kicking off next weekend. There’s so much going on in ITC that I think I’ll leave all that for another post later in the week.

On Monday, indie rock ‘n’ rollers The Duke Spirit play the Club Academy while Tall Firs are at the Dulcimer in Chorlton. Gig of the week, maybe even the year, will be at the Academy on Tuesday when The Hold Steady, who are pretty much our favourite band of the past few years, arrive back in Mancehster for the fourth time in little over 18 months. There are still tickets left and you’d be a fool to miss them. See you down the front. Ok, so maybe The Hold Steady aren’t your thing, maybe you want to see some guy in a splangly one-piece daredevil uniform singing into a telephone strapped to his daredevil helmet while he bashes out distorted blues on his guitar; a sort of Seasick Steve meets Evil Knievel kind of thing. If you do then Bob Log III could be right up your street and, as luck would have it, he’s playing The Ruby Lounge on the same night.

There’s plenty going on on Thursday with The Ting Tings playing the first of a two night homecoming stint at the Academy while hotly-tipped Friendly Fires are at the Ruby Lounge. The Automatic are on at the Academy 2 but if you’re lucky they’ll be drowned out by US hardcore legends The Melvins upstairs in the Academy 3. If you want something a bit quieter then acoustic singer-songwriter Kaki King plays the Night & Day. From what I’ve heard on her MySpace page this could be very good indeed.

Friday sees Cajun Dance Party at the Academy 3, Pete Doherty at the Ritz and Stevie Wonder at the MEN Arena. On Saturday we’ll be at the Bridgewater Hall to see the Tindersticks for the first time in ages. They’re promoting their excellent new album, The Hungry Saw, and will have an orchestra in tow so it should be an excellent night.

In The City gets properly underway on Sunday but the pick of the non-ITC gigs on the night are the intriguing Maps & Atlases at the Star & Garter and The Streets at the Academy.

Posted by The Ledge on 28th September 2008 at 11:13 pm | comments (1)
File under gig guide,manchester gigs,the hold steady.

Album Preview: The Hold Steady – Stay Positive (Rough Trade)

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive coverReturning home from work to find the new Hold Steady album sitting on our doormat, two months before its release and before any reviews have appeared on the internets, is just about the most exciting thing that’s happened to this us since we started this blog almost three years ago. Things got even more exciting about thirty seconds later when we pressed play to discover that this is definitely not the album that I had feared it would be. Having become familiar with the title track, with its multiple references to other Hold Steady songs and Boys And Girls In America style singalong power chorus, I was worried that this would be Hold-Steady-by-numbers, an album that practically wrote itself, an attempt to repeat the success of its predecessor at the expense of a wee bit of their considerable integrity. I was wrong: yes, this is undeniably a Hold Steady record but it reaches further than anything they’ve done before and for a large part, eschews those big choruses in favour of added nuance and complexity.

Opener “Constructive Summer” has a verse that is all Hüsker Dü and a chorus that recalls Reckoning era R.E.M., though I’m pretty sure that that comparison flashed into my mind because the songs mentions watertowers a lot. Anyway, it’s a cracking opening and the quality doesn’t let up through the whole eleven song set. Far from sounding jaded after their constant touring through 2007, the band sound energised with Craig Finn’s extraordinary lyrical prowess intact and Tad Kubler at the absolute zenith of his powers. There are horns, harpsichords and synths all serving to expand the sonic palette yet there’s no major advancement in the band’s sound but it’s certainly a more mature piece of work than Boys And Girls with Finn sounding more like Bruce Springsteen than ever before. Aside from “Constructive Summer” other highlights include “Jokes About Jamaica”, “One For The Cutters” and epic closer “Slapped Actress”, although it already sounds like one of those rare albums where your favourite track changes from day to day, with every track a contender.

I’ll probably review this in more depth nearer to its release by which time I might have calmed down a bit but at the moment Stay Positive sounds like it will give Separation Sunday a run for its money in the best Hold Steady album stakes and is a sure-fire contender for album of the year.

The Hold Steady – Stay Positive @ Manchester Academy 2, 26th Feb 2008

Posted by The Ledge on 15th May 2008 at 12:04 am | comments (3)
File under album review,CD Reviews,hold steady,Reviews,stay positive,the hold steady.

Gig Review: The Hold Steady, Manchester Academy 2, 26th February 2008

The Hold Steady @ Manchester Academy 2, 26th Feb 2008Roughly a year ago the Hold Steady played their first ever Manchester gig at Club Academy. It was full of men in their thirties and forties. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Bricking Chick and I were the only two females in the place, not that I’d have noticed because I was too busy dancing. A week later and The Ledge was with me in Sheffield at a riotous gig that he refers to as “the greatest night of [his] life.”

Oh how things change and yet how they stay the same!

Tuesday night the Hold Steady played an NME gig in the Academy 2. The front row, instead of being packed full of middled-aged men (and me), was full of young lads, some escorted by their parents. The average age of the Hold Steady fan had dropped in the course of a year by about 10 years. Not bad really. Too bad my age won’t do the same. It was disturbing yet thrilling. I worried that the atmosphere would change and that the band’s live show, which works so well in a small venue where there is no distance between them and the audience, would suffer. I didn’t really have to worry (although I fear a leap up to the Academy 1 may be disastrous).

First, however, we had to suffer through The Haze. Now, I can’t work out how they ended up on the bill. I can only imagine that the promoter was walking along a quiet London street when he got hit in the head by, I don’t know, a large piece of debris from a Russian satellite as it crashed to Earth, and was so dazed when he got in to the office that he thought it was 1985 and getting The Cult to play was a good idea. I can’t imagine if he’d been in his right mind he’d have booked a band whose entire set consisted of variations on “She Sells Sanctuary,” a song I can almost tolerate when I’m too drunk to know better.

The Hold Steady @ Manchester Academy 2, 26th Feb 2008The Hold Steady were on great form from the start, all smiles, with Craig Finn saying that he wanted to top their last Manchester show, back in July, which he reckoned was an amazing night. I wouldn’t know, but it was great to get a different opening song, the snarling “Hornets! Hornets!” which we’d not seen live before and which led into a raucous “Stuck Between Stations.” At this point they were off, running through a set which was about half Boys & Girls in America, which the crowd sang back, and half Separation Sunday. Keyboard player Franz Nicolay, sporting a beard to go along with his handlebar moustache, was on good form, making eye contact and grinning at most of the front row, and Craig Finn kept exhorting the crowd to clap and dance more, although he seems to have stopped repeating every line he’s just sung away from the microphone for emphasis. I missed it.

The Hold Steady Setlist, Manchester, February 26, 2008Two new songs made the set: “Constructive Summer,” ostensibly about being home from university for the summer and trying to find something to do, and “Stay Positive” which is the title track from their upcoming album (and which we sneakily filmed for you viewing pleasure). While The Ledge reckons “Constructive Summer” sounds like Hüsker Dü, I thought that both songs were very much in the vein of Boys & Girls in America, that is to say, pop rock songs with great singalong choruses. I’m looking forward to hearing them when I can actually make out the lyrics.

Despite having seen the Hold Steady about a half dozen times over the last 13 months, I continue to be amazed at their ability to be playing a gig with the crowd rather than for us. A lot of bands (can you hear me, Pete Doherty) play lip service to breaking down the barrier between themselves and the audience, but most of those other bands want to be rock stars more than anything and they want to be around their fans so they can get fawned over and told how great they are. The Hold Steady, on the other hand, are no different from their audience (except of course for the fact that they’re genius songwriters) because they’re in the room for the same reason that we’re in the room – because a great gig is a thing of joy and because great music soundtracks all the important moments of our lives and getting to experience that music which is, ahem, scratched into our souls, in a live setting, with 1000 other people experiencing the same thing, can be the greatest feeling in the world.

The Hold Steady – Hornets! Hornets!

Video: “Stay Positive”

Posted by JustHipper on 28th February 2008 at 10:51 pm | comments (9)
File under Gig Reviews,manchester academy 2,manchester gigs,mp3,Reviews,stay positive,the hold steady,video,youtube.

Justhipper’s Top 10 Gigs of 2007

  1. The Decemberists @ Manchester Academy 2, February 5th (review) & @ Sheffield Leadmill, February 2nd (review)
  2. The Hold Steady @ Sheffield Leadmill, February 21st (review) & @ Manchester Club Academy, February 13th (review)
  3. James @ Manchester Club Academy, April 30th (review)
  4. The Arcade Fire @ Manchester Evening News Arena, October 27th (review)
  5. The Shins @ Manchester Academy 2, March 27th (review)
  6. Jarvis Cocker @ Manchester Academy 1, February 19th (review)
  7. Joanna Newsom @ Manchester Bridgewater Hall, January 15th (review)
  8. Broken Social Scene @ Manchester Club Academy, October 16th
  9. New Pornographers @ Manchester Academy 3, November 20th (review)
  10. Devastations @ Leeds Faversham, November 24th (review)

Like The Ledge, I went to less festivals this summer and owing to circumstance, did not get around to reviewing T in the Park at all, even though it was, as expected, great fun. I found the live music I saw at festivals this year (ATP excepted) was no match for last year, but a few sets did stand out. I really should have reviewed that Hold Steady set from T in the Park at the time. They only did 3 acoustic songs, and it wasn’t even the full band because most of their equipment didn’t make it from Oxygen and they had no bass at all, but because of their determination to play and give us a good time, and because of the fantastic crowd who had been waiting for them with a lot of anticipation (and swapping Hold Steady gig stories with us), it was the best 15 minutes I’ve had at a festival since I saw the Arcade Fire at Leeds in 2005.

  1. The Hold Steady @ T in the Park, July 8th
  2. Nick Cave / Grinderman @ ATP, April 28th & 29th
  3. Low @ ATP, April 28th
  4. The Hold Steady @ Leeds Festival, August 24th
  5. Einsturzende Neubauten @ ATP, April 28th
Posted by JustHipper on 19th December 2007 at 11:36 am | comments (2)
File under Lists,the hold steady.