Words by: Chad Berndtson
Soulive w/ Susan Tedeschi, Joe Russo, Shady Horns & Guests :: 3.19.14 ::
Brooklyn Bowl :: Brooklyn, NY
Soulive is ideally suited to the extended residency format, especially in a place
like New York where many fans come to more than one show and expect something different –
but no less intense, original and thought-through – every time.
Watching the hard-boogieing hordes on a rainy Wednesday night – the fifth of eight shows
in this year’s installment of Bowlive – you couldn’t help but tip your hat to what Alan
Evans, Neal Evans and Eric Krasno have achieved. Not only is Bowlive a real Soulive
residency that hearkens back to headier days when the trio – and its galaxy of friends –
played these ragers in the Big Apple all the time, but it’s also a format that reminds us
just how versatile this crew is. From soul-jazz with George Porter Jr. and John Scofield
to raging funk, hip-hop and blues with a who’s who of guests spanning DMC to Susan T.,
Bowlive means painting with every color in the Soulive palette, with the band adjusting
night after night but always sounding like itself.
As in previous Bowlive evenings, this night’s adventure began with the core trio, flexing
its muscles on “So Live!” and “DIG.” The now-frequent Beatles dovetail came next, with
“Eleanor Rigby” shifting to “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” in a psychedelic wash of guitar
and keyboard that at one point had so much emphasis from Alan Evans that a piece of his
drum set broke under the strain.
As it turned out, powerhouse drumming was the order of the night, with featured guest Joe
Russo next to the stage – and Evans’ kit – for a massive “76,” before the Shady Horns came
aboard for “For Granted.” “Vapor,” a favorite for lovers of Soulive with horns, kept
things aggressive, particularly with Eric Bloom’s five-alarm trumpet solo.
Jon Cleary had warmed up the crowd with a 45-minute set so pleasant in its uplifting,
boogie-woogie soul that it didn’t much matter it was almost identical to his Tuesday
opening set. It was a gas to see Cleary slide back into place for the close of Soulive’s
first frame, joining the full band, horns and also a surprise visitor, Tedeschi Trucks
Band vocalist Mark Rivers, for “When You Get Back,” worked over in all its late-night-in-
Set two kicked off with a pair of Soulive aces, “El Ron,” a typically tight groover, and
“Aladdin,” which yielded to horn section solos and then saw the rest of the band drop away
entirely as the horns jammed, conversed and rode the breakdown back into the head of the
With all that soul-jazzy exploration finished, what came next was a crush of soul, R&B and
roadhouse blues courtesy of Susan Tedeschi, the announced second-set guest.
Tedeschi and the members of Soulive – particularly Krasno, who’s worked with Tedeschi and
Derek Trucks for years and briefly played bass in the TTB last summer – have an easy,
kidding rapport, which made the whole rest of the set feel less like a concert and more
like an anything-goes impromptu jam session among buddies.
This being Soulive and Bowlive, there were lots of buddies. Along with Tedeschi, Russo
slid in to play James Casey’s percussion rack and Rivers returned to sing backing vocals.
The whole crew moved through a selection of songs focused on Tedeschi’s soul-blues comfort
zone, including her “Butterfly” and the Ray Charles gem “Tired of My Tears” to get things
rolling and then a frothy guitar duel with Krasno on “There’s a Break In the Road,” the
Betty Harris tune that’s been a Tedeschi staple in the past.
[Photo by Adam McCullough]
Next came the simmering midnight soul of “It’s So Heavy,” a TTB tune that Krasno had a
hand in writing, followed by the more torqued-up “Misunderstood,” another TTB regular and
one written by Krasno and (forthcoming Bowlive guest) Sonya Kitchell.
Up until that point, the band had largely backed Tedeschi, passing the baton around for
solos but deferring to her sweet-coarse vocals rather than breaking out. That all changed
as Cleary returned to the keyboards, and Tedeschi doffed her guitar, firing up the whole
ensemble for Betty Wright’s “Clean Up Woman” – one of those massive, late-in-the-evening
Bowlive funk fests where the whole crowd is into it at once and asses shake as if
With the hour stretching past midnight, rumors circulated that the other “T” in TTB might
be making an appearance as the Allman Brothers Band set at the Beacon had finished about
11:45. It wasn’t to be, but as Tedeschi, Cleary and the Soulive corps piled back onto the
stage, they did have one more “T” guitar in the mix: London Souls front man Tash Neal.
With Russo back behind the kit, and the horn section locked and loaded, the band lit into
a fierce “Lovelight” – all howling shout-sung verses, stabbing horns and squealing
guitars. It looked like the end, but after a quick huddle, the ensemble served up one
more: “Little by Little,” the Junior Wells shuffle that brought Brooklyn Bowl back into
broiling blues territory.
With the Allmans in twilight, a new mythology of spring New York jam-scene residency
traditions was much in need. Bowlive was already a tradition. Now it’s a staple, and the
keeper of the flame.
Bowlive Night 5 – March 19, 2014
Set One: So Live!, DIG, Eleanor Rigby > I Want You (She’s So Heavy), 76 (1), Up & Out (1),
For Granted (1), Vapor, When You Get Back (2, 3)
Set Two: El Ron, Aladdin, Butterfly (1, 4), Tired of My Tears (1, 3, 4), There’s a Break
in the Road (1, 3, 4), It’s So Heavy (1, 3, 4), Misunderstood (1, 3, 4), Clean Up Woman
(1, 2, 3, 4)
Encore: Turn On Your Lovelight (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), Little by Little (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
(1) w/Joe Russo, drums and percussion
(2) w/Jon Cleary, keys
(3) w/Mark Rivers, vocals
(4) w/Susan Tedeschi, vocals
(5) w/Tash Neal, guitar and vocals
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