Irving Plaza | New York, NY | 04.27.02

Soulive’s 21st Century Soul Revue roared into New York City’s Irving Plaza, marking yet another grand step forward in Soulive’s brief but exciting career. Over the years, Soulive has been joined by a number of special guests, but now they’ve brought a regular crew of guests out on the road with them.

On the roster this particular evening was a horn section featuring Sam Kininger (the fourth member of Soulive), Josh Roseman and Ryan Zoidis. Also in the lineup were N’Dambi on vocals, Shuman on rhymes and Mister Rourke on turntables.

Having brought the Soul Revue uptown to the legendary Apollo Theater the previous night, Soulive had some surprises up their sleeves for the downtown crowd at Irving Plaza. They immediately broke from what has been a fairly regular setlist so far on the tour by opening with the old school favorites “Cash’s Dream” and “Rudy’s Way”, which then segued seamlessly into a sick jam of “It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers.

Soulive then delved into some material from Next, their second release on Blue Note. The horn section took their places at the back of the stage for a short but sweet rendition of “Flurries.” The manic, fast-paced “Whatever It Is” took on a new life in concert, with an extended intro section not included in the studio version. That was followed by a blistering “Cannonball”, featuring a soaring solo from Eric Krasno on guitar. N’Dambi then joined the fray and sang lead on the sultry “Romantic.”

Alan Evans, Soulive’s drummer and spokesman, then announced that they were going to do a song they hadn’t played much lately, but wanted to since they were mixing things up on this second night of the NYC stand. They busted into Stevie Wonder’s “Jesus Children of America.” While perhaps not as long as some epic versions of “Jesus Children” of the past, the horn section added a new twist to the classic tune.

After “Kalen” and “Bridge To ‘Bama” with Mister Rourke, Alan warned that the crowd’s endurance was about to be put to the test. He was right on, as an almost 40-minute “Tuesday Night’s Squad” followed! Soulive’s sense of showmanship shines every time they play this song, as the band members leave the stage every few minutes, one by one. It ended with Neal Evans, Soulive’s passionate and supremely skilled keyboard wizard, and Sam in a deep, tease-filled sax-keyboard duel.

The encore brought the house down as Shuman led the crew through a loose cover of James Brown’s “Sex Machine”, and then N’Dambi did her take on Robert Randolph and The Family Band’s “I Don’t Know What You Come To Do”, as Soulive jammed ferociously underneath her vocals. A loud, wild way to end a great show.

In the last year or so, and especially on this Soul Revue tour, some fans have felt that Soulive has strayed too far from their early organ trio days. But Soulive is doing what great bands do, they’re continuing to evolve and expand the limits of their musical capabilities. The members of Soulive live and breathe music, and all four of them are involved in various side projects spanning many diverse genres. Krasno and Kininger are founding members of the funky band Lettuce, which has an album coming out and will be doing a national tour in July. Krasno is also producing a hip-hop record for Shuman and has recently worked on a Soulive remix record. Alan Evans has produced a hip-hop project called m.e.k.a. 54, with an album out soon. Finally, Neal Evans has been working on a solo project called Xerobase and has just finished scoring the music for an independent film. These side project albums will all eventually be released by Velour Recordings, Soulive’s original label.

The 21st Century Soul Revue rolls on with stops in the Southeast and four shows at Jazz Fest before Soulive begins their five date run opening for Dave Matthews Band. Then they’ll hit the festival circuit in June and early July, including an appearance at the much anticipated Bonnaroo. Don’t miss it.

Brian Altman
JamBase | New York
Go see live music!

[Published on: 5/1/02]

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