6a00e553f11fb38833014e8ae80af8970d@ Newcastle Riverside, October 23 2014

The Hold Steady cruised into Newcastle on the back of a European tour and a new album that has been critically acclaimed across the media.

This is a band that is very much the creation of Craig Finn, the lead singer – he writes all the lyrics and is the driving force for the group on stage. 

But in spite of all that he remains an unassuming, modest kinda guy.

After each song was sung back at him – and cheered to the rafters – Finn looked out over the audience like he couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing: an adoring crowd that knew all the words and that wasn’t afraid to let him know.

Even a brief listen to any of the best work that The Hold Steady produce is enough to reveal their storytelling craft.

On Tyneside, Finn delivered the words to his songs like a true master, annunciating the lines with his hands and gazing over the crowd like a university lecturer would gaze over his students – but no lecturer was ever revered and admired like the frontman is by this crowd.

The guitar was crisp, clean and threatened to blow the cobwebs off a joint largely known for Geordie Shore and a Saturday night on the drink – especially on songs like Massive Nights and Stay Positive.

For a man who had been on a solo tour, Finn looked delighted and at ease with his band as he strutted and danced around the stage – maybe helped somewhat by the booze being passed around. But, then again, isn’t that the point of rock and roll?

The Hold Steady were joined for the last song by support band the So So Glos for American Music, in what can only be described as ‘The Hold Steady all-inclusive five minutes’, where both bands ambled around the stage and both singers shared vocal duties.

As Finn sang ‘we had some massive nights, and every song was right’ on Massive Nights, he could have been signing about his own gig. With each passing year, this band’s burgeoning reputation grows.

Russell Hughes