Steel Train – The Bowery Ballroom – January 5, 2013
It had been well over a year since Steel Train had played a show, so the buzz of anticipation was high heading into their show at The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night. Add the fact that lead singer Jack Antonoff labeled these two weekend shows (they played the night before in New Jersey) as their last ones for good, and that buzz grew even higher. Some fans flew in from distant places, while others waited more than 10 hours in the cold to make sure they were the last ones pressed against the stage.
Farewell shows often border on an unbearable amount of self-congratulations and overwhelming nostalgia, without a lot of actual music. But Antonoff and his crew kept things focused. Right off the bat, Steel Train played one of their most successful songs, “Bullet,” followed by a few other fan favorites, like “Turnpike Ghost” and “Kill Monsters in the Rain,” before the first of the night’s two guests—Jack’s sister, designer Rachel Antonoff—came onstage to sing on “Dakota.” (Their father joined in on guitar at the end of the set on “Firecracker.”)
Since the farewell fanfare was at a minimum, the show’s more emotional moments stood taller and punctuated the beautiful night. The first of these instances occurred when the band huddled around Antonoff’s microphone for the nearly a cappella version of “Road Song,” written when they were still inching across the country on poorly booked tours. And another came as the encore began, when Steel Train simply let loose during “Black Eye” and “S.O.G. Burning in Hell,” jamming for their fans one last time. —Sean O’Kane
Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com