Sometimes, bands are specifically meant to be heard live. For patrons of The Hold Steady’s Friday night show at the Diamond Ballroom, this became apparent midway through "Sequestered in Memphis," the 12th song in a 90-minute set, when lead singer Craig Finn’s lyrical subject matter seemed more real than anything. "In bar light, she looked alright/In daylight, she looked desperate/That’s alright I was desperate too," he sang as a gaggle of nearing-their-30s women danced, pointed and laughed to stage right. Wherever it goes, the Brooklyn bar band seems to fit right in because, well, it plays for people who love bars. Finn grinned a mischievous grin and pointed back at the ladies, a gesture he repeated approximately 537 times Friday night. He’s a paradox, the singer. Typically a hard-rocking front man dresses in black, oozes cool, and swaggers about the stage like he purchased it by peeling off Ben Franklins and slapping them down one by one. Not Finn. His usual register is something like a nerd requesting the bully to release him from a headlock. The anti-frontman dresses like everyone else in the venue -- flannel button-down (without sleeves), white Adidas sneakers, miniature black frame glasses, a cheap watch. He’s got no visible tattoo to speak of, plays air drums and dances like a 12-year-old kid blasting AC/DC on the radio in front of his bathroom mirror. But all it took was a few seconds of singing, frenetic foot-shuffling and hand-shaking to endear himself to the crowd, which was pumping fists and spilling beer a few seconds into the opener "Constructive Summer." It continued to do so until the first encore break, 19 songs later. Don’t forget the rest of the band. Lead guitarist Tad Kubler handled most of the wailing, which was extensive. Heck, one or two of those songs are just excuses to listen to excellent classic rock guitar. Regular members Galen Polivka (bass) and Bobby Drake (drums) were joined by a touring keyboardist and additional guitar player, who increased the sonic blast to the maximum. More characters and shady situations cropped up throughout the night from the hilarious denials of "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" to the selfless love for beautiful Jessie in "Hurricane J". "There was that whole weird thing with the horses," Finn sang from "The Weekenders", probably the creepiest and most hilarious lyric in the band’s entire catalogue, amplified by his arched eyebrows. More generalized songs like "Massive Nights" with its grand "Woah-oah-oah-oah-oah" chorus line serve as excellent nostalgia triggers, reminding everybody of the best party they ever went to. Kubler procured a classic Jimmy Page double-neck Gibson 1275 for the first set’s last song, "A Slight Discomfort", prompting Finn to initiate full-on geek-out mode. He danced onstage without the slightest bit of coordination, gleefully prompted by rock and roll. The encore came and went, ending with the singalong ballad "Southtown Girls". The band exited the stage shortly before 11, leaving elated fans in its wake, chatting and walking off together to some party at some bar somewhere, about which Craig Finn’s probably already written a song.