Saturday, August 25, 2018

Live Review: Little Steven And The Disciples Of Soul bring Soulfire to Shepherd's Bush

July 30, 2018

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Not forgetting his wise-guy acting career in The Sopranos and Lilyhammer.
However, tonight he returned to his true calling as leader of his fifteen-piece band.
Playing a two and a half hour set of scintillating soul classics, deep cuts from his back catalogue and hot new songs from his most recent Soulfire album, he supplied maximum enjoyment to his dedicated fans.
With set opener Sweet Soul Music being belted out by his finely tuned band, Little Steven hit the stage and emptied his lungs into this soul classic.
Easy on the eye, he was glamorously backed up by his three sinuous 70s attired female backing singers.
Covered in purple and black from the paisley bandana on his head to almost his feet, which were hooved in patent leather leopard spot brown boots, Little Steven controlled the stage like an old-school band leader.
Stopping halfway through the opening song, with the band in freeze mode and giving his fearsome Frank Tagliano death stare to the occasional audience member who broke the silence, Little Steven whipped up the hysteria to a frenzy before the band broke back into finishing the song.
It's refreshing to witness a show being presented in the context of an old-school Soul Revue, with all players having their moment to shine on the stage.
The power of the horn section alone shook the floorboards to the rafters in this former BBC Television Theatre in Shepherd's Bush.
In fact, the effort put into choreographing the onstage arrangements was a masterclass of how to present a show.
No sampling or drum machines, just top professional musicians blending their artistry together and clearly revelling in every moment.
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Incendiary takes on Soulfire and Lyin' In A Bed Of Fire moved the show quickly through the gears as did the fuel injected energy on Etta James' The Blues Is My Business.
With the vibe pumped up to the max, Southside Johnny songs Love On The Wrong Side Of Town and Some Things Just Don't Change were delivered with the passion of a band locked into a shared love of their repertoire.
It's fair to say that with a high calibre band playing at the top of their game, there comes a show stopping moment during a set when even the players are surprised by their top level of interplay.
This arrived with the funky wah-wah chug of guitar introducing James Browns' blaxploitation ode Down And Out In New York City.
With the backing singers shaking their thing with cool harmonies, all players took their turn to exhibit their musical chops to the wide-eyed delight of this sold out hall.
After being introduced to the stage by Dave Clark at the beginning of the set, guest singer Ali McKenzie from UK 60s band The Birds - which originally included Ronnie Wood - joined the party and hollered hard on Say Those Magic Words.
It is heartening to hear Van Zandt involving his favourite artists and keeping alive their treasured songs.
To prove such, encores including The Beatles Got To Get You Into My Life and U2's Out Of Control, and an earlier fiery take on Gary 'US' Bonds' Standing In The Line Of Fire, sealed the deal on a matchless evening of magnificent rock 'n' soul.
If music is where everybody can find a common ground to share and enjoy their listening tastes, then tonight Little Steven produced a joyous connection to humanity with his Soulfire show.

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