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Showing posts from October, 2014

The Hold Steady, Manchester Academy 2, 19th October 2014

The first thing that strikes you about Craig Finn, the lead singer with The Hold Steady, is that this guy doesn't look like he's in a rock band. Indeed, short, bespectacled, and with a thinning thatch, he looks bookish, maybe an accountant, or an IT guru. A more than passing resemblance to Woody Allen and football manager Martin O'Neill, you might think.

Indeed, the bookishness extends to the lyrics of the elaborate stories contained within the songs. What other band would have the crowd singing along to a chorus of "Sub peoned in Texas, sequestered in Memphis"?

But don't let this fool you. The Hold Steady can rock with the best, as last night's gig at Manchester Academy 2 demonstrated.

I first came across the band back in the mid-noughties, Shaun, a guy I knew from Stalybridge Buffet Bar, sadly no longer with us, rated them. The title track from their 2008 album 'Stay Positive' then became something of a mantra as I had a bad time that year.

Finn him…

Tales from the Towpath

One of my plans for the summer was to walk the local canal towpaths.

By late August, I had only done it twice. But I finally got my arse into gear again one Monday afternoon when I had a day off and did the short stretch between Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge, and back, with the odd shower joining me on the trip.

Mytholmroyd is situated in that no-man's land between large village and small town. Surrounded by some stunning moorland and valley scenery in a relatively wide part of the Calder Valley before it narrows on the westward approach to Hebden Bridge, one of its main claims to fame is as the birthplace of poet Ted Hughes, whose work was heavily influenced by the area. It also boasts the longest single continuous gradient in England, as the road to Blackstone Edge climbs nearly 1,000ft over 5.5 miles through Cragg Vale. As seen in this year's 'Tour De France'....

I got off the train, and headed across from the station to the Shoulder of Mutton. Years since I'd been…