LITTLE STEVEN and the DISCIPLES Of SOUL – ” Count Basie Theatre ” 27th May 2017

Posted: May 29, 2017 in MUSIC
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Stevie Van Zandt and Bruce Srpingsteen at the Count

The Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul concert on Saturday, May 27th at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank had a little of everything. With two hours of sterling soul-infused rock ‘n’ roll. Show business sizzle as the show was broadcast around the world by SirusXM and Live Nation’s new NextVR. Stars in the audience, including Eddie Brigati from the Rascals and Vincent Pastore from “The Sopranos.”

And yes, Bruce Springsteen. The Boss watched most of the show from the audience but joined his pal and fellow E Street Band member Stevie Van Zandt for four songs, “It’s Been a Long Time,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out,”  “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” and “Can I Get a Witness,” to close the show.

Springsteen  watched most of the show from a side-wall aisle, much like he did at the April 22nd Disciples of Soul show at the Asbury Park Film and Music Festival show at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park.

“Can I get my friend who’s out of work,” said frontman Stevie Van Zandt .

Springsteen, who’s on break from the E Street Band, had spent Thursday, May 25th on the jersey boardwalk in Wildwood. In Red Bank, he and Van Zandt traded lead vocals for “10th Avenue Freeze-out.” The Disciples’ dynamic backup singers, Jessica Wagner, Erika Jerry and YahZarah Saint James, picked up the song’s “Kid you better get the picture” line. Van Zandt and Springsteen personalized  the lyrics to “I Don’t Want to Home,” performed in the “Soulfire” arrangement.

Yes, “Soulfire,” the new Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul album that was released last week.  The work is composed of songs Van Zandt wrote for other artists. The Basie show was a record released party for the album, and Van Zandt shared a few of the songs’ backstories on Saturday.

“Standing in the Line of Fire” was originally written for Gary “U.S.” Bonds.

“I’m on my way to the studio to cut this thing and give it a shot, and it comes on the radio,” Van Zandt said. “I’m like, (blank) me. I can’t beat that — I can’t even come close to that.”

The answer was to give it an Ennio Morricone style arrangement. At the Basie, percussionist Everett Bradley shined on the track’s prominent bongos part.

Van Zandt put down his guitar and put a scarf on for “Soulfire’s” doo-wop track, “The City Weeps Tonight.” Van Zandt  is a street-corner tenor, with a tear in his voice. The song was a  delicate sentiment, delivered with feeling and passion. Van Zandt explained that he wrote “The City Weeps Tonight” over a 35-year arc.

“I wrote the first two verses in 1981, and the last verse this year,” Van Zandt said. “It’s takes me back to a very special place, a doo-wop place.”

Some of “Soulfire’s” songs are more immediately familiar. “Love on the Wrong Side of Town” was written by Van Zandt and Springsteen for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. Here, drummer Charley Drayton gave the track a unique stutter beat that added to the majestic sweep of the song.

As for the rest of the band, the evening was all about great ensemble playing from the 15-member Disciples of Soul. Guitarist Marc Ribler, a familiar face at the Jersey Shore, picked up a few solos and is the band’s music director. Saxophonist Eddie Manion picked up one of the night’s biggest cheers this side of Springsteen with his solo on “Forever.” Van Zandt said that keyboardist Lowell “Banana” Levinger, a former member of the Youngbloods, was “overqualified” to be in the band.

Levinger, with a shock of gray hair and warm smile, radiated on electric piano and mandolin.

It seemed like nothing was overlooked at the Basie, from the band’s wine-red shirts and black vests to the siren lights that opened the  show. You get a sense of Van Zandt is a perfectionist with an eternally optimistic rock ‘n’ roll heart.

That rock ‘n roll joy came through in the note perfect, uplifting evening at the Basie.  The concert will be rebroadcast  on Van Zandt’s “Underground Garage” channel on Sirius XM, starting 11 a.m. Monday, May 29.

Van Zandt and Springsteen did, eventually, go home. The two pals since childhood walked off the stage to close the show, arm in arm.

Stevie Van Zandt and the Disciples of Soul at the Count Basie Theatre, May 27th, 2017

Setlist

Soulfire
I’m Coming Back
Among the Believers
The Blues Is My Business
Love on the Wrong Side of Town
Until the Good Is Gone
Standing in the Line of Fire
I Saw the Light
Some Things Just Don’t Change
Saint Valentine’s Day
Salvation
The City Weeps Tonight
Down and Out in New York City

Princess of Little Italy
The Time of Your Life
Solidarity
Leonard Peltier
I Am a Patriot
Ride the Night Away
Bitter Fruit
Forever
It’s Been a Long Time (with Springsteen)
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (with Springsteen)
I Don’t Want to Go Home (with Springsteen)
Can I Get a Witness (with Springsteen)

thanks: cjordan@app.com

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