A Fantastic Performance

As headliners, The Hold Steady suffer from the same problem that The National did on the Sandisk Stage two nights before; they're playing after a big name band, Bowling For Soup and the tent simply doesn't fill to the extent that it did for the preceding band. This is nothing to do with the band who play an exuberant set and more than deserve their place at the top of the line-up. The set tonight consists mainly of tracks from new album, 'Stay Positive', which isn't released until next week, but has been featured in its entirety on the band's MySpace and on iTunes since June. Fans have already learnt all the words and are taking up the unique challenge of trying to sing along to Craig Finn's breakneck delivery; the best sing a-long moments are to older tunes like, 'Chips Ahoy' with exuberant "Woohs" coming from the crowd and 'You Can Make Him Like You', which benefits from slightly repetitive and less speedy vocals. 'Constructive Summer' from the new album kicks off the set in fantastic style with flashing lights and ferocious guitar playing before the band launch straight into single, 'Sequestered in Memphis', which is sure to soon be another sing a-long number with its jaunty chorus.

Finn careers around the stage with characteristic chaotic style, while keyboardist Franz Nicolay adds some extravagant action, tipping his cap and smacking it rhythmically at his side. 'Your Little Hoodrat Friend' from 'Separation Sunday' receives plenty of cheers, proving that those in attendance are staunch fans and converted by more than last year's re-release of 'Girls And Boys In America'. 'Stuck Between Stations' is a triumphant highlight as lights flash and the crowd explode into a frenzy. The band waste little time speaking, with Finn only adding in the occasional comment as to the song's subject or dedicating the uplifting 'Stay Positive' to an 8year old friend of his, but this just adds more time to pack in the tunes. 'Magazines' and 'Yeah Sapphire' from 'Stay Positive' are both warmly received, while it's the glittering, 'Slapped Actresses' that's chosen as the closer. It's a wise decision as its euphoric chorus is met a myriad of hands punching the air. The Hold Steady are one of the most animated and exciting live bands out there and those present had a real treat. Hold steady for more of the same when the new album is officially released and ready to work its charms.