The Egg in Albany got a taste of Southern Soul on Sunday March 5th with St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Upstate New York was one of the first stops on the lengthy international tour ahead for the 8 piece gospel band in support of their latest album, Sea of Noise. Despite it being their first appearance, the Alabama based band brought in a sold out show to the Capital District. Traveling with the gospel group and opening for them was Aaron Lee Tasjan, an up and coming Nashville songwriter.
Aaron Lee Tasjan takes the stage wearing a cosmic star printed suit, joined by a drummer and bassist, psyching the crowd up for a “bunch of rock n roll songs we made up.” The trio performed mostly songs off Tasjan’s latest album, Silver Tears, released last fall, providing a diverse sound of 70s Americana rock with southern flair. The show kicks off with “Out Of My Mind” an upbeat bar saloon tune with relatable lyrics of the thoughts inside our heads. “Little Movies” starts with hard hitting waves of rhythm that crash on you like the Alabama Shakes and doesn’t break. Tasjan is sincere, witty and simple in his storytelling, making him an artist you’re eager to lend an ear to, whether talking about drugs or decorated hotel rooms.
His vocals are that of a Southern Crooner, with hints of a young Tom Petty or Neil Young, showcasing his diverse tenor range. The slow tempo of “Memphis Rain” was a classic romantic southern lullaby that lit up the air like summer night fireflies. One of the most engaging parts of the set was “12 Bar Blues” as the crowd whooped and hollered with each hound dog lyrical line about bars we know all too well. “Ready to Die” was a rebellious swamp rock melody with guitar twangs and licks. The set ended with “Success” a groovy song with a slamming beat and guitar sliding.
Dramatic curtain reveals an empty stage with golden stained glass backdrop and the audience cheers with anticipation and joy. The Broken Bones walk on as Paul Janeway takes center stage wearing a long cape and serenades the crowd in the shadows with a spine-chilling “Crumbling Light Posts.” Suddenly, the soulful music explodes, everyone jumps to their feet and Janeway yells, “It’s time to lose yourself, Albany!” Janeway is an entertainer to say the least as he struts and shimmy’s all over the stage in his shiny shoes and dazzlingly suit. But fashion and dance moves aside, the volume and strength of Janeway’s vocals are jaw dropping. Hell bent on reaching those passionate high notes, Janeway uses his entire body to slay every syllable with heart and soul.
Jason Mingledorff provides an airy flute to lift up the band for a swanky “I’ll Be Your Woman” while a serene brass echo followed from trumpeter Allen Branstetter and trombonist Chad Fisher. Al Gamble stays true to the Sunday night revival theme with standout organ work on “Tears in the Diamond.” Each powerful crescendo electrifies the audience into hysteria. The Broken Bones cut loose and heat up with a jazz funk fusion as guitarist Browan Lollar shreds on the very edge of the stage. Drummer Andrew Lee and bassist Jesse Phillips supplied a heavy thunderstorm rhythm during “Brain Matter” as Janeway sings trancelike to the microphone.
One of the truly memorable moments of the night was during the evolution of “Broken Bones and Pocket Change.” Janeway begins to wind up miles and miles of microphone wire like a lasso as he slowly starts to wander off stage and into the rows of seats at The Egg. Concert goers got up close and personal with Janeway as he literally rolled down the aisles and stood on chairs, watching in awe as he absorbed the music and roared the heartbreaking lyrics into the air. The kind of feverishly shouting and shaking that would make James Brown proud.
Quickly recovering from the all out show stopper, the group went into the recognizable top hit “Call Me”, slowed things down with a sexy “Sanctify” and ended the set with “Is it Me?” their lullaby about Alabama with soft vocals and hushed horns. The night concluded with a request by the audience for an Otis Redding tune which the band was happy to oblige with a genuine “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”. Aaron Lee Tasjan joined St. Paul and the Broken Bones for an extra 70s rock voltage of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.” The show ended just as it started with explosive gospel but this time, Janeway rolled himself up in the carpet while continuing to belt out his very essence.
Paul Janeway’s presence on and off stage is as unforgettable as his beautifully orchestrated band mates. Aaron Lee Taspan gave a taste of bayou folk rock and St. Paul and the Broken Bones broke it all down for our sweet salvation. The night was a musical experience full of redemption and hope with plenty of fierce dancing. Don’t miss St. Paul and the Broken Bones on their next trip to New York in June 16-18 at Mountain Jam at Hunter Mt.
Article: Susan Rice
Photos: Bryan Lasky