The Hold Steady and The Haze

Craig Finn and co serve up another dose of good-time American rock’n’roll. Garage, Glasgow (February 25)

Hold Steady
Tonight’s venue is normally a piss-stained refuge for hyperactive teens performing a series of routines: acidic cut-price booze overkill, bountiful quantities of unprotected coitus and eventually vomiting up their spleen. With the Skins cast excused from class, the place is crammed with a miscellaneous pick’n’mix of mature students and thirtysomethings looking for some teenage kicks of their own.

Glasgow pomp-rockers The Haze take to the stage with all the self confidence of the Gallagher brothers after a keg of home brew and a bar fight with Ricky Hatton. Frontman James Cairns swaggers around like a peacock on speed, hunting for the lost soul of Jim Morrison, as the rest of the band gorge on the decomposed carcass of The Datsuns. The Haze execute a watertight tutorial in nostalgia this evening; ‘Ghostdancer’ implores the crowd to bow at the alter of rock with devil signs aloft, while ‘Lord’ and ‘Kingsdown Blues’ are like pissed-up sermons from some kind of hard-drinking vicar willing himself to swim upstream on a waterslide.

Just as fun is The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn. He stalks the stage spurting poetic incantations as keyboardist Franz Nicolay peppers their bar-room rock with deft piano flourishes, twisting his Dali whiskers amid the soloing of guitarist Tad Kubler. Finn bounds around during ‘Cattle And The Creeping Things’ lecturing the crowd, his evangelical arms flailing uncontrollably like a high priest possessed. The congregation are on their knees in rapture, pumping their fists as ‘Massive Nights’ permeates the room. ‘Hot Soft Light’ and ‘Chips Ahoy!’ ship us back to the flannel-shirted college rock of 1980s US of A, with Springsteen at the bar downing double whiskies for good measure. Closer ‘Southtown Girls’ slows the pace and adds a slow-motion bliss-filled energy to a buoyant set. The Steady are a band that make life seem more exuberant. They take the thirtysomethings to the coolest party in town and get ’em drunk and laid, while the students are left thinking how great it was to be a pissed-up, oversexed 16-year-old vomiting in a toilet.

Gavin Cumine

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