The Hold Steady - A Positive Rage [live]
For fans, A Positive Rage will serve as a timepiece of America’s best bar-rock band as it transitions out of its beginning phases. For non-fans, it’ll sound like an open mic night from a band with a lot of good ideas, and no idea how to execute them. The truth is that this concert, recorded in Chicago on Halloween 2007, catches The Hold Steady at an awkward time. It’s somewhere in between a victory lap for Boys and Girls in America (released in 2006) and a pre-hashing of Stay Positive (2008).
Interestingly, only two songs from Stay Positive make the cut here – “Lord, I’m Discouraged” and “Ask Her For Adderall,” a song that deserved higher billing than being one of Stay Positive’s hidden tracks. Craig Finn’s raspy talk-singing has always been hit-or-miss live, and here, it’s mostly hit. The band sounds tight, but really, it’s a little hard to appreciate their sloppy bar-rock when you aren’t in a beer-soaked pub with a couple of hundred other people.
At some point, the only thing left to do with a live album is quibble about the set list. Should’ve been a little more from Separation Sunday. A little less from Almost Killed Me. Hey, you probably had to be there.
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