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Monday, February 16, 2015

Live Review: St. Paul & The Broken Bones

Posted By on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 10:05 AM

click to enlarge DAVID L. GARCIA
  • David L. Garcia
St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Saturday, February 14th, 2015
The Fillmore

Better Than: Eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's while watching Friends on Netflix, because you're incredibly alone and you've realized that everyone you could call is out at dinner. (Sob.)

I can sing. Sure I can. I was in choir at my church and elementary school. If you press your ear to the door of my bathroom while I'm showering, you might hear me staggering through "Seven Nation Army" or "Happiness Is A Warm Gun." I once ruined a night of karaoke for my friends by performing an un-followable rendition of The Who's "5.15."

So yeah. I can sing. What I can't do is sing so well, with so much vocal power and physical presence, that I transform The Fillmore into a soul-powered pressure cooker, driving a deliriously appreciative crowd utterly, utterly bonkers. In short, I could never do what St. Paul & The Broken Bones, a budding neo-soul garage outfit, did at their sold out Valentines Day show last night.

The Bones' frontman Paul Janeway arrived on stage a few minutes after the rest of the band, decked out in a rose colored shirt and gold shoes (!). The band was already knee-deep in a roiling version of Booker T. and The MG's' "Chicken Pox," but Janeway quickly made his presence known by climbing on top of the cabinets, leering over the crowd as the band burst into some tracks from their debut "Half The City."

click to enlarge DAVID L. GARCIA
  • David L. Garcia

All it took was two songs, the galloping "Don't Mean A Thing" and the bouncy "Sugar Dyed", and the crowd was sold. Those vocals, which rest comfortably between Joplin's howl and Pickett's wail, were an absolute revelation. Much like fellow Alabamian Brittany Howard, of Alabama Shakes, Janeway's vocals illustrated the timelessness of a great voice and great energy. 

Energy was key for St. Paul. After only two songs, a a sweat halo had forced his collar into submission. By the encore, sweat had soaked his shirt and was creeping through his suit. No wonder: Janeway was a tornado on stage, flying from one end of the stage to the other, falling to his knees inches from the crowd, and breaking out some slick footwork that would have made James Brown crack a smile. 

click to enlarge DAVID L. GARCIA
  • David L. Garcia
That said, St Paul would have been lost without his Broken Bones. Like any soul-men worth their salt, the band topped off the usual guitar-bass-drums-keys with a trumpeter and a trombonist, who peppered every song with their brash brass. Guitarist Browan Lollar made good on his solos, and drummer Andrew Lee, wearing a permanent Cheshire Cat grin, was no slouch behind his kit.

Every great live band has at least one solid cover to offer; the Bones had nearly half a dozen. Sam Cooke and Wilson Pickett were inevitable, sure, but I doubt anyone predicted a perky cover of Bowie's "Moonage Daydream." The biggest surprise of the night was a rendition of Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees", which the band turned into something that sounded more like an Aretha Franklin B-Side than a Thom Yorke vehicle.

Early in the show, St. Paul promised a longer set, because of Valentine's Day. Although I've certainly been to longer shows, the concert clocked in at just over two hours, a nice length that certainly left everyone satisfied. Whether it was the stage, adorned with heart-shaped balloons, or the opener, Sean Rowe, who offered a swampy, if spirited, set, or maybe just those heart-stoppingly great vocals, the crowd at The Fillmore was having a ball, throwing bras, passing joints to the band, stomping their feet impatiently when the pauses between songs seemed too long.

Before the last song, Paul Janeway, dripping with sweat and grinning like a bandit, stared out at the sold-out crowd and said "I was bank teller a year ago...and now y'all are screaming. I like it!"

The band proceeded to light the fuse on an incredible cover of Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness," and the crowd roared back at St. Paul & The Broken Bones, letting them know that they liked it too.

click to enlarge DAVID L. GARCIA
  • David L. Garcia

Critic's Notebook

Snack Tip: One woman brought some tangerines to the show. Kudos to her. They smelled great.

Will Call Etiquette: Bro, sold out means sold out. Stop bothering that girl.

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David L. Garcia


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