Rock 'n' roll problems, for most of the world, aren't real problems. The Hold Steady knows this fact intimately, but doesn't seem to care. The Brooklyn-by-way-of-Minneapolis group believes in a world where Paul Westerberg and Bruce Springsteen are saints, redemption is found at the bottom of a bottle, and miracles happen nightly on bar stages across America.
With its upcoming release Heaven Is Whenever (out May 4), the band's lineup has changed -- mustachioed keyboardist Franz Nicolay left the group last January -- but not its philosophy. The album's lead single "Hurricane J" has all the trademarks of the Steady's boozy, Midwestern romanticism: charging guitars, anthemic choruses and lead singer Craig Finn's street-prophet poetics.
If anything, the group seems a bit more self-aware about its status as "America's Greatest Bar Band," a label that has followed The Hold Steady around for years. On the song "Rock Problems," from Heaven Is Whenever, Finn howls, "She said, 'I just can't sympathize / with your rock 'n' roll problems.'" The band is seemingly coming to grips with a world that doesn't seem to be on the same page as its rock-as-religion gospel.
But when the group rolls into Diesel on April 14 for its fourth show in Pittsburgh in four years, the outside world won't really matter. Just listen to the last words of "Rock Problems" -- Finn makes it perfectly clear where The Hold Steady stands on the subject. "This is just what we wanted," he yells, "this is just what we wanted."
The Hold Steady with The Oranges Band. 7:30 p.m. Wed., April 14. Diesel, 1601 E. Carson St., South Side. $18 ($20 day of show). 412-431-8800 or www.dieselpgh.com