Monday, June 19, 2017

Retro Soul is Alive & Well in New Haven

St. Paul & The Broken Bones - photo by John V
Soul music has seen something of a resurgence in recent years. Performers like Charles Bradley, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, and Alabama Shakes have mined the era of Stax, Muscle Shoals and Motown to bring us essential new music that is steeped in the classic soul tradition. One of the prime examples of this modern soul renaissance is the Alabama based St. Paul & The Broken Bones, who performed at New Haven's College Street Music Hall Sunday night. The band is touring in support of its excellent 2016 release, Sea of Noise. The show was magnificent: this outstanding band offered a sensational set, featuring their powerhouse sound, which is an enthralling mix of soul and rock, touched up with more than a dash of R&B. It's a potpourri of retro soul with a modern feel.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones - photo by John V
Lead singer Paul Janeway, who’s a fiery mix of Otis Redding, Al Green, and Wilson Pickett, owned the venue as he danced, jumped and slid his way across the stage. His passionate vocals on songs like “I’ll Be Your Woman” and “Sanctify” transported the audience and lifted us to new heights with their intensity. This was a show jam packed with high points, including one of my favorites, a stellar rendition of “Broken Bones & Pocket Change” one of the band’s signature songs, from their 2014 debut, Half The City. But the night wasn’t just about touching our emotions. Janeway and the band also got our hips moving with can’t stand (or sit) still takes on “Flow With It” and “Call Me.” This extraordinary group kept us grooving as we twisted and swayed for the entire evening. This was a night for singing and dancing along.

Kudos to this remarkable cadre of musicians, who include Browan Lollar on guitar, Al Gamble on piano, Jesse Phillips on bass and Andrew Lee on drums. The three-piece horn section, featuring Allen Branstetter on trumpet, Jason Mingledorff on saxophone and flute, and Chad Fisher on trombone, provide a rich and gritty backdrop that’s essential to the group’s success. Holding it all together is Janeway, who is truly a force of nature, with limitless reserves of energy, with a voice that is simply astonishing; he testifies, soul-ifies and funk-ifies everything he touches. This is an incredibly tight unit that knows how to hit those grooves perfectly, and they match their leader every step of the way. By the time the band wrapped up the show with a four-song encore, they’d shook the foundations, raised the rafters and torn the roof off the place with their superb performance.

Shovels & Rope - photo by John V
Opening act Shovels & Rope delighted the crowd as well. Real life couple (and gifted multi-instrumentalists) Michael Trent and Carey Anne Hearst’s obvious joy at playing together was truly infectious. Their rollicking sound is an Americana-fed mix of country, folk and rock. Songs like “Birmingham” and “O Be Joyful” definitely captured the audience’s attention. Their set also included the lovely “The Last Hawk” a tribute to Garth Hudson of The Band, and “ Missionary Ridge” an evocative retelling of a Civil War battle. Thanks to amazing sets from both bands, it was an extraordinary evening. Special thanks to Paul Janeway for giving a shout out to New Haven’s signature food: pizza, during his between song comments. If you get the chance to see either Shovels & Rope or St. Paul & The Broken Bones live, run, don’t walk to your local music venue. They are absolutely worthy of your attention. Here are links to St. Paul & The Broken Bones performing "I'll Be Your Woman" and Shovels & Rope taking on "Birmingham"

1 comment:

  1. Gee, sounds like you didn't enjoy it at ALL! Lol

    Glad you got to go.