Soulive : Avalon, Boston MA 4/20/2006

I know it’s true: Soulive doesn’t need any help from me promoting their integrity as a power house three-piece jazz based funk trio. Nor would any of my criticisms of their performance at the Avalon in Boston have a tarnishing effect on their long polished reputation.

So with that said, there’s no need for either melodramatic praise or scurrilous denigration. We’ll keep it to a kind of passionate observation of that thing that can make us all tick and flicker a little faster and a little brighter before there were no instruments being played. That’s right. Catch my drift? It’s the music that moves us. It’s the music we’re after. It’s the music that deserves to be respected.

In an admittedly biased word from a long time fan, Soulive rocks. They have a history of bringing the house down on the live circuit and the Avalon show was no exception to the rule.

The thumping bass keys of Neal Evans reverberated through the Avalon like a 747 taking off from Logan Airport right down the street. At one point, I was ordering a shot of tequila in one of the five or so bars in the Avalon and I could see the tequila in the bottle tremble a little, reacting like the heavy beat in my chest to the driving rhythms of Evans’ keys.

Eric Krasno was up there in his signature New York City paper boy cap, stretching the strings of his guitar to what looked like near breaking capacity, then switching it up to fret board finger fireworks that would make you dizzy if you tried to follow his fingers moving up and down the neck of his guitar. Occasionally he blew into this kazoo that distorted the sound of his voice just enough so you couldn’t tell if he was saying words or not.

Meanwhile and never losing its steady, shaking, monstrous shape was Alan Evans’ afro, which was constantly in flux, thrashing back and forth when Evans slapped at the high hat cymbals, keeping the solid thud of the toms between his legs strong as the always audible Soulive rhythm.

For a couple tunes during the middle of the set, Reggie Watts and crew accompanied on horns, improvising long funky solos that put a swing in the step of the folks on the jam-packed dance floor. Not to mention the wave of smoke that billowed up into the ceiling lights after the first few blows on the “J”-horn, an unmistakable sign that the music was beginning to move the audience in more cerebral ways.

The Soul boys were up there for about 2 ½ hours and momentum was no issue. They played loud and proud like they’ve been doing for over ten years, proving that Soulive’s status as a top shelf act in the jam band circuit is both well substantiated and well deserved. The show at the Avalon was proof enough.

Photos by Christopher Kontoes

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