The Hold Steady, So So Glos - Limelight 2, Belfast,17th October 2014

The Hold Steady, So So Glos – Limelight 2, Belfast,17th October 2014

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The belief in Rock & Roll is waning. It never struck me or my gig going partner that it might be, until we left Friday night’s So So Glos and The Hold Steady musical extravaganza at Belfast’s Limelight venue when both bands put on performances that restored any “lost faith in being in a room drinking beer and having a goodtime with strangers,” pointing to the fact that due to the rise of the internet, this kind of experience is becoming less common.

Getting asked to support The World’s Best Bar Band has to be worth something. Brooklyn’s So So Glos opened up the Irish leg of this tour catching everyone off-guard. While punters were talking, getting drinks in or casually observing, the four piece sauntered onto the stage launching into a blistering ‘Son of An American’; they weren’t taking no audience participation for an answer…

Singer Alex Levine promoted what later on The Steady would continue – a theme of being together as one and letting the power of rock and roll, heal all.

“Come forward; we’re from New York City. We like to get to know each other gradually too” – it’s never an easy task to perform when nobody has heard of your group or any of your songs. A few keys of Stiff Little Fingers ‘Alternative Ulster’ went down well with the crowd and in one of Joe Strummer’s favourite punk cities, this punk band should be proud of their standard punk show tonight. By the end of their set is was clear that a diverse mix of young and older were assembling for the mains – 50-year-old musos to sixteen-year-olds having their first gigging experience; it was about to get big, clichéd and brilliant.

Craig Finn walked on last to The Hold Steady’s stage and informed everyone that moments earlier he had been locked in one of the tour bus’s rooms.”This gig might not even have happened” he says before singing the first bars of ‘Hornets Hornets’. Between singing lines he energetically taunts admirers, devotees and onlookers: this is his sermon, and you’d better believe the rhetoric.

Second guitar player Steve Selvidge seems to have taken over from original member Tad on the main guitar lines enabling our nowadays axeless auditor Finn to do some more conducting and pointing with the gathering we have here tonight. It’s clear to see he’s come here on business as stated in fifth song of the night ‘Sequestered In Memphis’.

There’s a beautiful spoken Finn interlude between ‘The Only Thing’, ‘Big Cig’ and ‘Girls Like Status’ when he talks about his first guitar lesson where the teacher was more concerned if he smoked than if he knew any chords or notes. Also he talks about his dad’s useful advice which he took for the last tune: “Guys go for looks, girls go for status…”

Apart from nearly completely forgetting the words to The Sweet Part of The City it was a flawless performance from Finn and Co. While it’s debatable if strangers are failing to go out anymore it is certain: gigs of this quality are few and far between… Great to see The Hold Steady are still in a bar band baby, no Killer Parties to end due to ‘a struck curfew” but Your Little Hoorat Friend sufficed. Thank you So Steady Glos! – Pizza. Taxi. Bed. All round; not a bad start to a weekend.

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