By: Frank J. Lombardo
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Appearing Live Tonight recently had the opportunity to again (for the fourth time) experience St. Paul & The Broken Bones, a widely praised eight-piece soul band from Birmingham, Alabama. St. Paul and the Broken Bones,’ formed in 2012. The band’s music is influenced by legendary R&B and Soul singers/performers such as Al Green, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and of course, James Brown. As a preacher himself, Paul Janeway, the bands front man, recognizes this genetic musical link that has been central to the soulful R&B band’s identity and success.
From the powerful voice and energetic stage presence of Janeway and the band’s neo-soul sound from America’s Deep South, St. Paul & The Broken Bones should be on your “must see live” list, if it isn’t already. The band is composed of Paul Janeway (vocals), Browan Lollar (guitar), Jesse Phillips (bass), Andrew Lee (drums), Al Gamble (keys), Allen Branstetter (trumpet), Amari Ansari (saxophone) and Chad Fisher (trombone).
From the release of its debut album, Half the City in 2014, to the follow up release of Sea of Noise in 2016 and right up to its third and recent release of Young Sick Camellia, St. Paul & The Broken Bones has had abundant success with album sales and recognition on the record/song charts. Interestingly, all three albums peaked in top 75 slots and singles from all three have all charted well with Apollo from its latest release peaking at number 3 on Billboards charts in October 2018.
It is not only their successful studio work that makes St. Paul & The Broken Bones a relatively common sell out live performance. The band has been attracting larger audiences of all ages every year they come to your area. St Paul & The Broken Bones live performances are filled with Janeway getting caught up in the moment. His movements on and off the stage with his differential fearless showmanship leads the band’s musical talents and exemplifies its dedication to its live performances. Whether it’s Janeway’s jumping out of his “fashionable” shoes, his singing while laying down on the stage, rolling himself up on the stage carpet (Carpet Burrito) in Boston, climbing the amp stacks in New York City, jumping into the crowd or singing from the balcony of the theater, it is Janeway’s “death defying” feats, his vocal abilities and his displays of emotion that gets the standing room only crowd either into a frenzy, or as Janeway describes “crying or just in bliss.”
St. Paul’s fan base is ever growing larger and stronger and plays a large role in the band’s being thrown into the national and international scene, touring the world, opening for the likes of the Rolling Stones, appearing on David Letterman’s Late Night, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Conan, Austin City Limits and two appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The band has also generated millions of views of its music videos on YouTube and other social media outlets.
But in the end, it’s the live performance that captures the St. Paul & The Broken Bones. Recently Nightlifemag.com attended the band’s performance at the historic, Capitol Theatre in Port Chester New York. During the show, Janeway expressed his recognition of this historical landmark that was built in 1926. The theater transformed through the decades from a movie theater, catering hall and in the 70’s to one of the most famous “psychedelic performance” venues for the likes of Pink Floyd, Johnny Winter, Traffic and the Grateful Dead that played 13 dates in a one year span in 1970 and 1971. It was this famous stage where Janis Joplin debuted the ever famous “Mercedes Benz.” In between songs where Janeway belted his lyrics to the rafters of the theater, he explained how it was an honor and privilege to perform on this historic stage.
For almost two hours, with the band’s flexing of its charismatic musical talent right up to Janeway’s finale, filled with his death defying emotionally moving and soulful vocals, the standing room only crowd was treated to a performance filled with an ever new and growing catalog of the bands original music, its extraordinary musicianship and mind-blowing talent.
As the band’s musicians enter the stage and set up with their instruments, front man Paul Janeway enters from stage left. An immediate applause erupts, coming mostly from the veteran St. Paul fans. Almost immediately after a que from Janeway, the band breaks out to the opening of LivWithOutU, from the latest 2018 release, Young Sick Camellia. The band slides back to Flow With It (You Got Me Feeling Like) and All I Ever Wonder from its 2016 release, Sea of Noise.
As Janeway catches his breath, the bands breaks into the introduction to Like a Mighty River, from its 2014 debut album, Half the City. An already worked up and loose Janeway starts his famous soulful shuffle from one end of the stage to the other. With his feet shuffling like a worked up James Brown, and swaying his hips and waving his sequined cape, Janeway has the audience, particularly the standing room only cramped orchestra section, shuffling and moving along with him.
The band follows with Grass is Greener another track from the Half the City release and then segued into with So Fresh, So Clean, an Outkast cover. At this point the audience is treated to six songs from the newest release, Young Sick Camellia that included Mr. Invisible, Convex, NASA, GotItBad, and Apollo. It is with the love ballad, Bruised Fruit that Janeway’s vocals brings the crowd to what some may call a “musically spiritual high” to end the set.
As the crowd was cheering for more, whistling, howling and stomping their feet, the band without much of a break steps back out on to the stage and performs an incredibly uplifting encore that included fan favorites, Sanctify, from Sea of Noise and then almost immediately into the critically acclaimed, Call Me. To bring an already frenzied crowd into a state of total “concert hysteria,” St. Paul & The Broken Bones end the show with every fan’s favorite, Broken Bones & Pocket Change where most if not all of the song was sung by Janeway as he walked along the rails of the upper balconies, if not from the top of the rails themselves.
St. Paul & The Broken Bones style and approach to the industry will most definitely have a lasting impact on today’s musical landscape and redefines the concept of “soulful.” Its musical creativity and live performances are different than what anyone else is doing. This alone marks St. Paul & the Broken Bones as a “Must See” event.
As Sarah McCarry of Relix Magazine branded “[a] St. Paul & The Broken Bones concert conjures the spirit of a Pentecostal church revival. Appearing Live Tonight would like to add “…on steroids!”
Keep on the lookout for more Appearing Live Tonight and remember, support live music and enjoy your “NIGHTLIFE.”