Soulive, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY – 3/10
Photo by Dino Perrucci
The excitement of a sold out crowd at Brooklyn Bowl was soaring through the roof as Soulive took the stage for the final night of their Bowlive residency. Bowlive, now in its third year, featured ten nights of Soulive with special guests and surprise collaborations. With no announced guests for the final night, the sold out crowd was excited to see what treats the band had in store. With The Allman Brothers in town at The Beacon, whispers of a potential Derek Trucks sit in flew through the crowd like wildfire.
Much to the delight of the crowd, Trucks did indeed show up after the Allman Brothers’ show, but didn’t join Soulive until nearly one in the morning. By that point Soulive had been going strong for hours, taking the stage around 10:30 after an incendiary opening set by close friends The London Souls.
With a debut album recorded at Abbey Road Studios, The London Souls have already experienced a significant measure of success for such a young band. But that feels like just a tiny taste of what’s to come. With crashing drums and huge guitar riffs, The London Souls build on the classic power trio sound of Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Having performed live in New York and on the festival circuit over the past few years, The London Souls have turned into a monstrous live band. They are more comfortable with each other since the recent addition of a new bassist, and this opening set found guitarist Tash Neal thrilling the crowd with searing guitar solos while the band stretched out on songs from their first album and new tunes destined for their upcoming sophomore effort. While watching The London Souls, I can’t help feeling that someday I’ll look back in awe and marvel at how lucky I was to see this band before they turned into rock and roll giants.
After The London Souls’ barn-burning opening set, Soulive took the stage accompanied by a horn section. Between The London Souls’ energetic opening set and excitement for the night’s surprise guests, Soulive’s first couple songs of instrumental funk felt timid, but the band was just getting started. Things heated up halfway through the set, as Soulive invited out Bowlive regular Nigel Hall to sing original “Too Much” and a couple of covers. To close the set out, The London Souls’ Tash Neal also joined the band, and with Hall’s wailing vocals and Tash’s scorching guitar leading the way, Soulive paid tribute to Jimi Hendrix with a rousing cover of “Them Changes.”
As Soulive took the stage for a second set, the crowd was greeted with dozens of white balloons as the show turned into a loose party. The band kicked the set off with “Bubble” which highlighted Neal Evans and followed with the crazed, exploratory funk of “One In Seven,” that found Eric Krasno’s guitar gracefully darting around the thumping rhythm section of Alan Evans’ drums and Neal Evans’ clavinet, before Alan Evans took over with a drum solo. As the clock passed midnight, the band dipped into material from their latest release, Beatles tribute Rubber Soulive. Krasno shined while shredding his way through “Eleanor Rigby” while Tash Neal joined in for a menacing cover of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”
After The Beatles tribute, Derek Trucks emerged with soul singer Ledisi for a cover of “A Change Is Gonna Come.” As highly anticipated as Trucks’ sit in was, the relatively unknown Ledisi managed to steal the show with her stunning vocal performance. Bowlive allows Soulive to act as hosts and collaborate with a variety of friends, not only big names like Derek Trucks, but also emerging young talents like Ledisi and The London Souls. By generously sharing the spotlight with so many talented friends, Soulive managed to keep things fresh and exciting over the course of their ten-night run and after three years of fun, Bowlive has turned into one of the New York music scene’s best traditions.