Words by Martin Halo | Photos by Joe Papeo
Everybody wants to know what is with all the mystic behind the music — or at the very least, “was that girl just checking me out?” Because I mean let’s face it, in certain cases music has the ability to hijack every sense of conscious, leaving you nothing more than a gazing, drooling, idiot — hypnotized by the sound.
A fan in the last row of a Bruce Springsteen concert is just as engaged as those right up front. What is with that? Even church at the holidays can’t even come close to that kind of spiritual experience. Well, the answer is complicated but can be explained very simply. Rock n’ roll breaks all the rules, and because of that, the unconfined evolution of musicianship, character and melody has the ability to steal your soul, reminding the body that you are indeed still alive.
Now, I am not saying Eric Krasno is out there drenched in sweat, praying at his mic stand and sliding across the stage in front of 80,000. What I am saying is because the basic elements of rock n’ roll were put in place to be broken, the music can be morphed, twisted, broken-down and rebuilt to achieve the same engaged result from different individual experiences. It is a piece of our culture that affects everybody on the planet, pick your poison. Each individual experience holds the power to instill the same worshiping result, and in Soulive’s case this past week in New York City it didn’t hurt that they had a few Beatles’ tunes tucked under their sleeve.
For those of you out there who enjoy the adventure of the American bedrock, then The Royal Family Ball was just your cure. An intoxicating concoction of gospel, blues, and jazz littered with wailing guitar verses and a handful of special guests.
Soulive was founded in 1999, when brothers Alan and Neal Evans invited Berklee guitarist Eric Krasno to lay down some tracks at a studio in Woodstock, New York, and has since evolved into one of the jam scenes most intrinsic acts. A residency at the Brooklyn Bowl back in March of 2010 and the release of Rubber SouLive, a collection of Beatles covers recorded to honor the period of songwriting between 1965 – 1969, set the stage for 3rd annual Royal Family Ball at Terminal 5 on October 2.
Popping the cork on a celebration, that marked the start of a supporting tour leg which will touch 23 cities before culminating with a New Year’s Eve performance in Boston, with supporting slots by Nigel Hall and Lettuce.
Lettuce’s inclusion into the evening opened the doors to a musical lineage with Eric Krasno which dated back to the band’s origins at the Berklee College of Music in the early 1990s. Deep horns and guest vocals by Talib Kweli warmed New York with selections off the band’s third LP, RAGE! [Royal Family Records].
At about 11 pm, the stage was set for what would be an adventure of epic satisfaction and salvation. Soulive came out of the gate with Beatles classics, “Come Together,” “Something,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Terminal 5 was electric as the New York audience echoed every word over the band’s instrumental rags. Jazz legend John Scofield, who collaborated with such artists as Miles Davis, Herbie Handcock and Phil Lesh, joined for “What You See Is What You Get.”
Scofield’s licks complimented Krasno with rich tone and when the track ended Sco unplugged and began to walk off stage. Keyboardist Neal Evans ran over to catch him in his tracks. As Evans wrangled Scofield back into the spotlight, a silhouette began to emerge from behind the curtain. The crowd went ballistic at the sight of Warren Haynes [Gov’t Mule / Allman Brothers Band]. Soul vocalist Nigel Hall emerged as well for the Albert King/Cream cover of “Born Under A Bad Sign.”
Haynes and Hall traded vocals while guitar licks dominated the number. The room swayed. The band returned for the encore with a melody where Nigel Hall took center stage and in classic reverend style, preached from the pulpit of soul. The only real bummer of the show was that the Beatles songs were sectioned off to the first 20 minutes and never returned. Regardless, all in all an epic Ball.
TheWaster.com | New York City