Concert Review: The Hold Steady at House of Blues

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About one year ago, the Hold Steady dropped by Cleveland just before the official release of Heaven is Whenever. The Beachland show was heavy on cuts from the new album, the band's fifth — a generally so-so effort on par with Stay Positive.

Lop off the mediocre songs from each, fuse the two together, and you'd have an 11-song masterpiece. Instead there were only a handful of gems, even as the Craig Finn and crew garnered the ever-important buzz, sales, and a more diverse audience. All deserved, mind you — the Hold Steady, after all, are a real rock band playing real rock music with a real, genuine rock frontman.

They came to town once again Saturday night at the House of Blues, playing one of only two U.S. dates on a spring tour. The larger venue — they've only played the Grog and Beachland in previous Forest City swings — was suited for the gesticulating, energetic mannerisms of Finn. What worked well in close quarters somehow worked better in the by-comparison cavernous HOB.

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