I try to nev­er miss see­ing the sup­port. Even if I check them out on YouTube and they don’t grab me, you just nev­er real­ly know. I would have paid to see The Hold Steady back in the day but here’s Craig Finn, at The Mac­beth, Hox­ton, sup­port for The Felice Broth­ers. We start­ed with drinks down the road at the cute Red Lion pub, resplen­dent with shab­by fifties fur­ni­ture and super-friend­ly barstaff. In hind­sight, we should have eat­en here instead of head­ing off to the venue.

The Mac­beth is more famed for its drinks (var­ied, cheap) than any­thing resem­bling food, so din­ner was a sick­mak­ing mix of mini tins of nuts from one of those whirly carousels. But being two feet from the stage was the per­fect spot to enjoy the bril­liant Craig Finn, ex The Hold Steady, who has moved on into a more reflec­tive place. Craig engaged with the audi­ence all the way, tales of love lost, dejec­tion as mid­dle age starts to creep in, and reli­gion, which runs like a vein through his lyrics. His songs from new album Clear Heart Full Eyes includ­ed some real stand­outs, in par­tic­u­lar Rent­ed Room with its plain­tive lyrics, Dylanesque deliv­ery and sin­u­ous gui­tars. This mes­meris­ing num­ber was just too short.

Craig appeared at Hox­ton Square Bar & Kitchen a few weeks lat­er, at the end of the tour, although this time as the main act. Along­side his new beer, Clear Heart.

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