Hold Steady mixes new songs into killer set of older jams in Northampton, Mass.

Listen, Dammit, has seen the Hold Steady a lot and two of the best Hold Steady concerts we’ve seen have been in Northampton, Mass.

The band made its second-ever stop there Tuesday at the Pearl Street Nightclub with a set that included a handful of new songs from forthcoming album “Heaven is Whenever” and an inspired selection of older tunes. (The Hold Steady’s first show there came Dec. 15, 2006, in the smaller club room downstairs.)

It was the fourth show on the band’s spring tour, which means the Hold Steady is just hitting its stride. Sure enough, singer Craig Finn was especially animated during the 90-minute set, sputtering and spitting his wordy vocals, waving his arms around and mouthing the words at the crowd when he wasn’t delivering them into the microphone. (It probably helps that he had family members in the audience — his parents are both from western Mass., and he was baptized in a now-shuttered church in Northampton.)

He and guitarist Tad Kubler high-fived after their guitar harmony part to close first song “Hornets! Hornets!” and Finn watched admiringly as Kubler ripped out a solo on his red double-neck guitar “Lord, I’m Discouraged.” The band, including new members Steve Selvidge on guitar and Dan Neustadt on keys, sounded just a bit more at home on new songs, including “Hurricane J” and “Soft in the Center,” than they did Saturday night in New Haven.

There was no wasted time — the band got up and rocked out, barely pausing between some songs and not pausing at all between others — the searing coda to “Stevie Nix” about-faced into the taut guitar riff powering “Hot Soft Light.”

The Hold Steady ended its main set with “Slapped Actress” from 2008’s “Stay Positive,” the crowd singing along on the wordless vocal refrain after the music cut out at the end. The band returned for a three-song encore that started with a see-saw beat on new tune “Barely Breathing,” then barreled through “Stay Positive” and into “Your Little Hoodrat Friend.”

Set list
1. Hornets! Hornets!
2. Hurricane J
3. The Swish
4. Magazines
5. The Weekenders
6. Navy Sheets
7. Banging Camp
8. Massive Nights
9. Soft in the Center
10. Chips Ahoy!
11. Constructive Summer
12. Multitude of Casualties
13. Rock Problems
14. Lord, I’m Discouraged
15. You Can Make Him Like You
16. Stevie Nix
17. Hot Soft Light
18. Stuck Between Stations
19. Sequestered in Memphis
20. Slapped Actress
Encore
21. Barely Breathing
22. Stay Positive
23. Your Little Hoodrat Friend

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *