Still enjoying the success of last year’s highly acclaimed fourth album ‘Stay Positive’, as well as current DVD release ‘A Positive Rage’, it’s clear to see the Brooklyn quintet are in high spirits from the off. Whilst the sold out cockpit crowd were somewhat stunned by the early start time of 8:20, the band wasted no time launching into action.
As a newcomer to the band, familiar with only their most recent work, tracks such as ‘Constructive Summer’, ‘Sequested In Memphis’ and ‘Lord, I’m Discouraged’ were mercifully spread out across the epic 1 hour and 40 minute set, sandwiched between a healthy mix of material from their back catalogue to satisfy even the most dedicated of fan. Despite such a long outing, it rarely felt longer than the average gig: partly due to the band’s boundless energy and charisma and partly due to frontman Craig Finn and keyboardist Franz Nicolay’s over-exaggerated onstage mannerisms, providing added humour whether intentional or not. With ‘Southern Girls’ and ‘Slapped Actress’ bringing the set to an initial close, followed by an encore of ‘Massive Nights’ it was hard to walk away with anything but praise, as for both new and old fans, there was lots of fun to be had. They may be no spring chickens, but The Hold Steady still know how to throw one hell of a party.