Soul Oozes From Paul Janeway’s Mic, Into Our Anima & Gloriously Consumes Us St. Paul & The Broken Bones Also Celebrate Al Gamble's Birthday At Their Capital One House SXSW Gig
AUSTIN, TX- It’s one thing to get down to the soulful, funky sounds of a clean vinyl record, it’s another thing completely to experience that soulful funk in person.
Ever since their 2014 debut album Half the City, I’ve had St. Paul & The Broken Bones on a pretty regular rotation on my streaming playlists. I purchased their most recent album, Young Sick Camellia, release in 2018, pretty much as soon as it was available, and may have to buy a new copy soon since I think I may be wearing out the grooves on the tracks “GotItBad”, “Apollo” and “LivWithoutU”.
But as much as I’ve grooved to their records while sitting at my desk, I only recently got to experience Paul Janeway and company live at SXSW. Performing a headlining set at the venerable Austin establishment Antone’s for Capital One House’s showcase during SXSW, St. Paul & The Broken Bones exceeded all of my expectations.
As an 8 piece band, you’d expect their southern, neo-soul sound to be loud and full. But it’s the interconnectedness of the bandmates and the way they feed off the energy emanating from their front-man that really elevates the quality and impact of the performance.
If you gave Paul a glancing look, odds are that pretty good that you’d find him unassuming at best. With his cherubic face and thick glasses, he looks more like an angelic choir boy than a man gets possessed by the same spirit that got James Brown to get on his knees in a cold cold sweat. But when he steps onto the stage, in his loud and gaudy feathered ensemble, and he begins to sing, all preconceptions are kicked off the stage and out the door. Paul is a true force of nature, with a stage presence that matches, and even surpasses, the quality of his supremely capable vocals.
While each player gets their moment to shine, Paul is clearly the focus of attention, and when he reaches out to grasp hands that are outreached towards his, or when he leaves the stage to make his way across the room to sing atop the bar, all eye- and cell phones- are focused on him because of his magnetism. Soul oozes from his mic, into our anima and gloriously consumes us.
It just so happened that this particular performance fell on the birthday of the man who plays keys for The Broken Bones, Al Gamble. When Paul stopped the performance to call Al up front to present him with a cake and streams of confetti, you could see the joy in Paul when he saw the embarrassed surprise on Al’s face with the announcement. It’s the kind of intimate interaction that happens amongst close friends, and we in attendance were able to share the occasion with the band. It’s the kind of authentic band chemistry that lends itself to a superior performance, and that’s what I got to experience.
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