Review | Photos | Bowlive IV | Nights 4 & 5

Words by: Chadbyrne R. Dickens | Images by: Nicholas Irving

Bowlive IV :: 03.13.13 :: Brooklyn Bowl :: Brooklyn, NY

Eric Krasno by Nicholas Irving
The prevalent consensus is New Yorkers are spoiled as they often possess access to the best of the arts and pop culture enticing them daily. It is safe to say that the 600+ people at the sold out Soulive show at the ideal playground for adults, the abundantly stimulating, Brooklyn Bowl, left most more than fully satiated. Only in New York City is one offered a 2 week residency by funk and jazz trio, Soulive, complete with a plethora of assorted talented announced sit-ins and guest stars. After four stellar nights, including a late night set appearance by Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes during night two, it would be hard to argue against night five being the most consistently mesmerizing.

Royal Family Record's Soulive, formed in Woodstock in 1999, was supported by the stellar brass section, The Shady Horns, consisting of Saxophonist James Casey, Bariton trumpeteer Eric Bloom and Saxophonist Ryan Zoidis. The band slowly commenced with "El Ron” and were clearly feeling and smoothing it out. Soulive loves to start deliberately, only to build to a face melting crescendo similar to fans eagerly awaiting the 'drop' in EDM music. After a subtle Bob Marley “War” tease, they continued the frenetic energy segueing into a fiery reggae-tinged "Reverb." However, pleasant anticipation permeated the air at the announcement of frequent Brooklyn Bowl performer, and arguably the most talented keyboard player in the land, Marco "The Wonderful Wizard of Weird" Benevento. The trademark red piano sat in the corner all evening and further foreshadowed the treat to come. Surprising, Benevento twirled the scales behind a Fender Rhodes parked left center stage during his appearance. Benevento immediately added his own trademark chops to the Soulive song, "Upright.” Benevento supplied a dose of energy, playing off of fellow phenom Neal "Octopus" Evans, that left keyboard fan's fawning in delight.

Marco Benevento by Nicholas Irving
Not confined to the structure of the songs he regularly plays from his repertoire, Benevento clearly relished the freedom to play more improvised, loose and outside the box. Highlights included a slow-paced cover, complete with eloquent Krasno nuance, on "Revolution" and a stellar cover of Led Zeppelin's “The Ocean” that Benevento knew well from the umpteen times performing it with his side project, Bustle in Your Hedgerow. Benevento appeared at Bowlive last year and again proved to be a fan favorite.

Soulive are exemplary musicians on their own, but are very adept at supporting their guest stars and allowing them to flourish. Noted lead guitarists of Los Lobos and frequent contributor to other artist's album, David Hidalgo, entered stage right. A highlight of the show was his take on the Traffic classic, "Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring.” But it was his version of Jimi Hendrix’s “3rd Stone from the Sun,” that captivated the crowd and best displayed his guitar prowess. Naturally, he led the foursome through a pair of Los Lobos material, “Dream in Blue” and “Chains of Love” which had a deeper scope of sound with the inclusion of The Shady Horns. Naturally, a cover of The Grateful Dead's “West LA Fade Away” drew massive crowd adulation. Some may know that the Jerry Garcia Band covered Hidalgo's "Evangeline" regularly and that Jerry in 1987 once sang Los Lobos' biggest chart hit, a cover of Richie Valen's "La Bamba". The band's transition from "West LA Fadeaway into Revolution" showcased some of the tightest jamming of the nigh and can be relived again through viewing on YouTube!

Encore by Nicholas Irving
Tash Neal, from The London Souls, had recently been in a coma from a car accident. Alan Evans proudly said afterwards, "The last time I saw Neal, he had just come out of a coma. He came back stronger than ever and that made me and the rest of us play even harder." Thus, a formidable night of music was capped off in impressive awe-inspired fashion with a three song tribute to Neil Young. With all the night's participants on stage, including Neal from The London Souls who opened the night, they forged full steam ahead with a powerful cover of the Neil Young-penned CSNY protest song, "Ohio" which turned into a lengthy exploratory jam session that left Marco often with his perma-grin which expressed euphoria as the band supported him for a lengthy innovative keyboard jam that teased Bill Wither's "Use Me Up." The momentum was maintained into an epic take on "Down By the River" which saw a delicious call and response session between Neal and Benevento that fueled the band to take it to the next level. Drummer Alan Evans took to the microphone and joined others in belting out the Young classic. Although the vocals were not the strong suit for anyone on stage, the instrumental fury was amazing. Hidalgo then took over with a poignant, "For What It's Worth" which was written by Stephen Stills but performed originally by Buffalo Springfield of which Neil Young was a member, and the love fest paying homage to one of our greatest musicians concluded. As the lyrics stated, "Everybody look what's going down" one could only remind oneself how lucky one is to live in New York and have an opportunity to witness such exquisite professional craftsmanship.

Set I: El Ron, Reverb, Upright, Swamp E, Revolution, The Ocean
Set II: Shaheed, Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring, Dream of Love (Los Lobos Cover) > 3rd Stone From the Sun, Chains of Love, Revolution, West LA Fade Away, Stone Free,
Encore: Ohio, Down By the River, For What it's Worth

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[Published on: 3/20/13]

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