St. Paul & The Broken Bones @ 9:30 Club (10/16/14)
The art of a live performance is not something that should be taken for granted. Performers must maintain a delicate balance that manages to keep the crowd engaged and entertained, while keeping (and displaying) their musical authenticity. Any bar band can get the crowd to go crazy playing crappy Bon Jovi covers; it takes a truly special band to win over an audience by playing their own music, especially when that music is unfamiliar. It’s a make-or-break lesson for bands who are just starting out
Thankfully, St. Paul & The Broken Bones seem to have been properly educated. Their show at the 9:30 Club on October 16 was one of the most dynamic, energetic performances that I’ve seen, equal parts concert, dance party and revival meeting. While their music (showcasing obvious Stax and Muscle Shoals influences) isn’t anything revolutionary, the entertainment value of their live show is more than enough to make them worth taking seriously.
The sextet opened with an instrumental jam that got the crowd in the groove, before frontman Paul Janeway made his appearance on stage. While the rest of the band has the taut musicianship of rugged studio veterans, Janeway is far and away the band’s star. His vocal histrionics, which ranged from high-pitched, Al Green-like squeals to soulful enunciations a la Chris Robinson, were only surpassed by his dynamic stage performance. Working the crowd like the preacher he never became, Janeway carried the show through a roller coaster set list that alternated between up-tempo dance numbers and slower grooves that carried an aroma of sweaty romance.
Regardless of the ambiance, the crowd was transfixed: it was the kind of show that you wanted to see go on forever. My only concern is that as the band develops more material, they will find it increasingly difficult to fit it all into one show; Janeway himself might collapse on stage if they ever cracked the two hour mark. But for now, their riveting white-boy soul show is one the best new things going. Consider me a convert.
- Don’t Mean a Thing
- Sugar Dyed
- Dixie Rothko
- I’m Torn Up
- Shake! (Sam Cooke cover)
- Half the City
- Broken Bones & Pocket Change
- Let It Be So
- Down in the Valley (Otis Redding cover)
- It’s Midnight
- Mighty River
- Grass Is Greener
- That Glow
- Moonage Daydream (David Bowie cover)
- Call Me