Review: Soulive @ Doug Fir Lounge

Well, I fell for it. I loaned him my soul, sight unseen, right there on the spot. Because that’s what you do at a show. You loan the artist your soul and take some of theirs in the ebb and flow of the live song. More often than not, both are returned to their respective owners after the experience, and both are usually better off for the exchange.

Blending gospel and blues, Hall almost crooned a song called I’ll Never Know. This pretty much quieted the talkers in the back of the room, grabbing their attention with his smoky, slow delivery.

The Nigel Hall Band appeared for the start of the second set. They turned out to be the Evans brothers, Neal and Alan, from Soulive. But the distinction was made that this trio was the Nigel Hall Band. Great, I loan him my soul and he shares it with two other musicians. It’s my lucky day.

It really was fortuitous to attend this short set. The power trio blasted through an Earth Wind & Fire classic with relish. But where they became a true band was during the final song, Leon Russell’s (via Donnie Hathaway) Song For You. They stretched this seventies gem for about fifteen minutes, jumping from slow to fast to sensual to heartfelt heartbreak and back again. Throughout the song, Hall’s smooth delivery blended with the Hammond organ and it was Stax all over again. I’m thinking, beautiful.

After the three song set, the Nigel Hall Band left the stage, but Alan promised that Nigel would be back. And I got my soul back, temporarily anyway. And it was better than when I had loaned it out 40 minutes ago. At least it felt better. I grabbed a bottle of water and sat back for the headliners.

Soulive, the aforementioned Evans brothers with Eric Krasno on guitar, came out at ten and fired right up with a funky Outrage, from 2007’s No Place Like Soul. With Neal Evans’ left hand handling the bass notes on an upper keyboard, his right plastered the room with chords and melodies on the higher end; all the while playing the perfect foil for Krasno’s fleet fret work.

After a few more tunes as a trio, Evans introduced The Shady Horns (frequent collaborators Ryan Zoidis and Sam Kininger on Tenor and Alto Sax respectively) and the now quintet version of Soulive took my soul to Chicago, New Orleans, Harlem and St. Louis with the triple run of Hat Trick, For Granted and El Ron. Now, from here on my soul’s memory is a bit fuzzy.

There were songs with syncopated saxophones. There was an absolutely killer rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up, with Nigel Hall blowing out the vocals. There were Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar licks, Booker T boogies and Tom Scott sax solos. There was Too Much, in which the band did their best James Brown (shy of the encore, which I may as well tell you now, was a James Brown song). If you closed your eyes, at times, you could hear the theme music from some ’70s TV drama you couldn’t quite put a name to.

There was a late night, last call feel to Manic. There was a 15 to 20 minute revival sing along to end the set when the band lit into Tuesday Night Squad. By this time my soul had grown to double its size and was throwing its hands in the air and shouting Hallelujah right along with everyone else’s in the room.

By the time I got my soul back from these guys, it was all sweaty and hyper, fueled by an adrenaline buzz that wouldn’t go away. Not obnoxiously, mind you, but pretty full of itself, you know what I mean? My soul had the satellite radio turned way up, windows down and singing along with Stevie Wonder’s Jesus Children Of America.

Like I said when you get your soul back from most live concerts, its better off than when you started.

Rock On through The Fog

A.J. Crandall

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One Response

  1. great review! seriously. thanx for knowing the setlist and knowing whether they were covers or not. Also, I consider anything north of the Hudson Valley as “Upstate NY”…though Buffalo considers itself Western NY.

    Also glad to see they busted out an ‘El Ron’ in the middle of the set. Now that’s a peak.

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