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Published: 2001/06/25
by David Onigman

Soulive- Copley Square, Boston, MA 6/19

I walked towards the stage at Copley Square Park just
as the first notes of Steppin' started to muffle
through the inadequate PA set-up for the Boston Globe
Jazz and Blues Festival. I worked my way up towards
the stage past all the confused onlookers looking for
standard jazz and settled myself towards the back of
the audience members standing close to the stage.
After my first real glance I realized it was either
too hot or not long enough of a concert for Soulive to
get decked-out in their traditional suits when
playing. They looked very casual and after a closer
look I realized the Evans Brothers, Neal and Alan, no
longer sported the afro-like hairdos they had last I
saw them.

The organ was extremely buried in the mix through
most of Steppin', that was unfortunate because this
Soulive live-staple has alluded me in the past when I
have caught them in concert. The sound technician
located the problem with a few minutes left in the
song, the song concluded and Alan Evans, Soulive's
drummer stepped up to the microphone to introduce his
brother on the Hammond B3 and Eric Krasno on guitar.
As Alan likes to announce to the crowd, they played
Cash's Dream after Steppin' (a funny practice I think,
I don't know another band that notifies the audience
almost every time of what they are about to play.) I
was pleased to see that Soulive did not see the need
to play a tune off their new album in the first two
songs of this afternoon set. Cash's Dream was
laid-back, Soulive didn't seem to have the same
intensity I had seen them possess in the past, perhaps
they were sick of playing the same songs at every
concert. Next was a refreshing rendition of "One In
Seven" a tune off Soulive's Blue Note debut album
"Doin' Something". Now the tune should probably be
called "One sometimes in Seven" because the guys play
less than half of the song actually in 7/4, but it's a
nice groove when they are "In Seven". The song
correctly captures the feel Soulive has been playing
lately, lots of Jimmy Smith and Grant Green influence
melded carefully with hip-hop and funk. The guys
looked like they were having a great time the entire
concert (Neal couldn't stay in his seat at the organ),
but musically I don't think it was up to Soulive par
due to the lack of a decent PA system and my
speculation that the volume had to be kept to a
minimum due to the location in Copley Square.
A rockin' "Uncle Junior" was played and then they
brought out long-time Soulive collaborator: Boston's
own Sam Kinninger. Sam, a member of "The Squad"
added great depth on the alto sax to the new tune
"Hurry Up.And Wait" and the highlight of the evening:
A rendition of The Isley Brother's "It's Your Thing".
Seeing Soulive bust that out with Sam made the whole
concert quite worth it. Closing with my favorite song
off the new Album "Bridge to 'Bama", the groove
absolutely smokes in the song.

Leaving stage for a short period of time, they
returned to do a two-song segue encore (which of
course Alan introduced before they played it) of a
Stevie Ray Vaughn tune (don't know what it was called)
and the title track of Soulive's Velour Records CD
"Turn it Out". All in all, I was pleased to see
Soulive for free on a nice sunny day, I just wish the
sound could have been up a couple of notches clarity
and volume-wise. The concert did successfully wet my
appetite for Gathering of the Vibes where Soulive will
be allowed to play as loud as they want and to a more
active audience. And why didn't Eric use the
talk-box? That's always fun. Perhaps he does not want
to overuse the gimmick.

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