St Paul and the Broken Bones Live in Bristol
The retro-soul revivalists St. Paul & the Broken Bones were originally scheduled to perform at the Bristol's Trinity Centre on the Southwest portion of their tour. They were scheduled to play Bristol's Trinity Centre on their U.K tour, but an explosive performance Later with Jools Holland saw the band moved to the more elegant setting at Colston Hall. It was a smart choice, certainly, considering the reception given to the group at the end of an incredibly powerful set could have ripped the roof off of a more shabby-looking venue! The band USP apart from playing classic soul music, with an ebullient style that can delight even the most skeptical of hearts, is in the form of a larger-than-life singer Paul Janeway, a soul shouter with vocal skills to beat any of his competitors MT4 Indicators in the newly re-emerging R&B circuit. Couple this with St Paul's obsession with involving his body in a frenzied burst of stage showmanship that could beat James Brown to shame and you are in the presence of a truly captivating, soul-singing shaman. With only two albums that include the tense album Half the City (2014) and the more refined sequel Sea of Noise (2016) to their credit The Alabamian group is clearly an ongoing work. There is evidence aplenty, though, that St. Paul & The Broken Bones are much more than the proverbial one-trick pony; Sea of Noise traded in its predecessors' (over) exuberant wham-bam-thank-you-mam instincts, for a rather more seductive, string-based, and occasionally funky approach to stirring our collective souls. Janeway's incredible journey to the brink of pop stardom is worth mentioning as a white child (not you'd recognize that from the voice The voice! ) born in rural Alabama who, as a child of an orthodox Christian fundamentalist family, had dreams just of being an Pentecostal preacher until when he was in his teens, he made the decision to trade in his religious calling for a profession in accounting and the enticing pleasure of creating the type of music for secular purposes that was previously forbidden within the Janeway home. Janeway might be eager to emphasize that the actor has turned his back on the whole "old-time" religion (within 30 seconds of stepping onto the stage, he symbolically removed himself from the stage, lavishly taking off his religious robes in order to expose the extravagantly pattern-strewn jacket beneath) However, a childhood that was spent in the body of the Mother Church is deeply enshrined in his incredibly sexy stage show - from the simple scripted "good god almighty" to the in-your-face "have mercy" (or, perhaps, it's the opposite way around) which he frequently uses to underscore the emotional heft of a lyric. The Sundays that he spent watching hellfire preachers raise canes in the pulpit have left their marks too. Janeway always raises his hands in mock prayer as his eyes are fixed on the heavens and calls out to the audience "congregation" to dance "their asses off". It's better than passing around the collection bowl! The incredibly well-rehearsed and tightly-knit group - co-founder Jesse Phillips (bass), Al Gamble (keys), Browan Lollar (guitar), Jason Mingledorff (saxophone), Chad Fisher (trombone), Allen Branstetter (trumpet) and Andrew Lee (drums), began the 90-minute set with the casually groovy "Flow with it", the song that showcases Janeway's icy cool falsetto to great effect. The other highlights of the first half were the sexy deep soul ballad "I'll Be Your Woman" and the edgy "Brain Matter", which was a sight to see Janeway sing with heartfelt despair from the lyrics: "That's my dad with the gun, shooting another's son'. The set truly reached the tops with a stunning rendition of the funky "Midnight on the Earth" and a rousing cover of the Van Morrison classic "I've Been Working". Anyone who has heard Van as well as the Caledonian Soul Orchestra's rumbling live version of the track on the previous It's Too Late to Quit Now release will be aware of the high bar that was set. When you thought the show couldn't get better, the band exploded into the tune that gave the song its title "Broken Bones and Pocket Change". Janeway is known for his ability to warn fans to not have a bathroom break during the song, but it was no warning at all this evening, and a few unfortunate fans missed out on a fantastically brutal five minutes of Janeway was pushed to the brink of despair, sank to his knees, before falling to the floor and disappearing beneath the drum kit, only to rereturning only to kiss and then throw his winkle-gold pickers over the top of the stage. The track (if anyone was listening at the time) concludes with a hysterical Janeway throwing himself into the middle of the floor with a fake anger. The set was memorable, but not exactly show-stopping, as the band had not-finished business to finish, and they concluded their performance by performing"Call Me" and the Wilson Pickett homage "Call Me" and the heavy-duty gospel scream that is "Sanctify". The encore was four songs long and included an unrefined and sloppy cover of the Otis Redding classic "Shake" (in their early concerts, the band performed all the song by Otis Blue to compensate for the absence in original music) and a frankly real "Is It Me" " The song lays the truth of Janeway's theological confusion: "Jesus is trapped inside my TV screen, giving me all the answers, but never ever Heaven is too distant and I'm unable to find no peace' The show concludes with a thrilling grandstanding rendition of "Burning Rome" complete with an enchanting vocal that prompted laughter and applause in a spontaneous manner, not for the first time from an audience that was awestruck.  

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