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.