Avid readers of this blog, of which there are n, where n is less then a multitude, for I am indeed famous amongst the dozens, know that I am very fond of a Minneapolis band, now relocated to Brooklyn called The Hold Steady!

On Thursday night, Dublin hosted the most significant theological event of the season. Euan Cameron talked about cosmic time here in Maynooth last week. Megachurch pastor, bestselling author and Bill Clinton’s personal pastor, Bill Hybels has been and gone. John Caputo is coming to peddle some postmodern philosophy at the end of the month. Bishop Will Willimon is hanging out around Dublin next week. And Trevor Morrow preaches practically every Sunday in Lucan. Yet in the Academy on Middle Abbey Street, Craig Finn and the members of The Hold Steady! shared something arguably more theologically impressive.

I risk downplaying the sheer exuberant rocking fun of The Hold Steady! by waxing lyrical about the exhilarating, ambivalent Gospel content of the songs, which often follow the narrative arc of the addiction, despair and redemption of a girl called Hallelujah. Yet it behooves me to share with you the significance of The Hold Steady! Their five albums, judging merely from critical opinion, constitute the most significant pop cultural contribution you have never heard of. But their music is tinged with an awareness of sin, desire and redemption that makes it good for the soul.

Plus it is good on the ears.

I hardly expect concerts to deliver on my expectations anymore but this one just blew me away. My friend Joanne came and she had never heard them before. She said it was like nothing she had ever experienced. A wall of glorious sound, a crowd of enthusiastic people and at the centre of it all the unique, joyful exuberance of Craig Finn. The Hold Steady! are the best band people have never heard and Finn is the weirdest and coolest and most unlikely of rock stars you’ll ever encounter.

There is no way I can do justice to the gig, except to witness to its awesomeness and encourage you to track down the music and give it a listen. It is a bit like a cross between the American rock of Bruce Springsteen, the spoken word poetry of Henry Rollins and the redemptive theology of Hans Ur Von Balthasar.

And to top it all, Finn is a damn gentleman when accosted in the pub by simpering teenage girl fanboys hiding in the body of a 29 year old church leader….

Craig Finn and me

Your Correspondent, Big heads with soft bodies make for lousy lovers

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