The Alabama soul ensemble uncorked a “Sea of Noise” — and energetic, horn-fueled funk — for an approving audience on a stellar Friday evening. (Review, photo gallery)
It’s no question that the South breeds a kind of soulful manner.
Along with its fried chicken, hospitality and sweet tea, it lends a dash of spirit that Southerners seem to wear on their sleeves. This is especially true of music.
At first glance, St. Paul & The Broken Bones frontman Paul Janeway doesn’t quite look the part of charismatic lead singer for an indie-soul band.
His short stature and stocky build are accented only with black-rimmed glasses and short brown hair. He looks rather … normal.
But on stage with a microphone in hand at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park on Friday night – sporting a flamboyant floral blazer, green pants and gold shoes – Janeway is nothing short of a rock star.
His truly unique, powerhouse voice carries the music and his lightning-fast dance moves are a spectacle.
“I must say this is a beautiful place to play,” Janeway said in a smoky Alabama drawl. “Shows like this make us wanna do what we do.”
The band opened the evening with “Flow With It,” a building foray of funk with horns abounding.
OUTLANDISH DANCE MOVES AND MORE
“Midnight in the Earth” saw Janeway in a fit of wild dancing, as he kicked one golden shoe out from under him at a time, while swinging his hands and hips in alternate directions. The sold-out crowd fed off the energy.
Flanked by an all-star cast of musicians, consisting of electric guitar, bass, drums, keys and horn section, Janeway gave the spotlight to his bandmates for an instrumental midway through the set. The band let loose, spurring the crowd to display their own outlandish dance moves.
When the vocalist returned, the crowd was at its most energetic, and during “Broken Bones and Pocket Change,” Janeway ventured out into the audience toting his corded microphone. Fans and security guards alike helped hold the stretched-out cable as it extended across the amphitheater.
Nearing the end of the main set, Janeway recruited the audience to sing along to “Is it Me,” a heartfelt anthem.
After returning for a slow-burning 15-minute encore, the group played a handful of classic-sounding ballads, and ended by taking the crowd “to church,” as Janeway put it.
The band eased in to “Sea of Noise,” a yearning gospel tune, by far Janeway’s strongest and most soulful vocal performance of the evening.
He wailed into his microphone with every ounce of energy he had left before finally dropping to the ground to belt out the last few phrases as the band built to a rumbling finale, no doubt ending on a high note.
PHOTO GALLERY: St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Durand Jones & The Indications
Photos by Anna Sink
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC