Thebarton Theatre – Tuesday 16 April 2019
Words Geoff Jenke
Steven Van Zandt is a producer, songwriter, actor, activist and foremost, musician. He is a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, television star having had roles in The Soprano’s and Lillyhammer, radio host to his own weekly syndicated radio show, owns his own record label and is involved in helping teachers and students by bringing educational materials to them. When he is not doing any of the above, he goes out and tours with his own band, The Disciples of Soul. Little Steven is a very busy man.
Thanks to Bluesfest Touring, Little Steven came to Adelaide, winding up his Soulfire world tour. With no support band, The Disciples of Soul, all 14 of them, yes 14, took to the stage to the sound of The Beatles tune, The Inner Light. Van Zandt came on stage the whole band launched into a blistering cover of Sweet Soul Music. Steven, the consummate performer was laying down the theme for the evening, Soul Music.
Without taking time out to catch their breath, the band followed it up with Soulfire from his latest album and Lyin’ in a Bed of Fire. Before a delightful version of Etta James, The Blues is my Business, Steven pointed out we had an election coming up and he had been listening to the politicians during the day. He then mentioned that politics is the same everywhere in the world, “bullshit”, before beginning what was one of the many highlights of the evening. The long version allowed many of the band to come to the fore with short solos with their given instrument.
Steven resurrected Love on theWrong Side of Town, a song he and Bruce Springsteen wrote for Southside Johnny & the Asbury Dukes way back in 1977. And so it went for the rest of the evening. Stories of growing up and being friends with Bruce, reliving moments of rock history with us, preaching about the power of live music with no drum machines or computers and playing great songs while letting the band display its talent. Salvation sounded a bit AC/DC-ish, James Brown’s Down and Out in New York Citynearly bought the house down and for me was the biggest highlight of the evening. For Princess of little Italy, the two keyboard players in Andy Burton and Lowell “Banana” Levinger (who for those of you who know your music history, will realise he played in the band The Youngbloods) to play mandolin and accordion. We also got two brand new numbers which will appear on his next album in Love Againand Superfly Terraplane.
The “encore” (well they never actually left the stage) started with the Jimmy Barnes hit Ride the Night Away, which Steven wrote before getting back to his activist role and singing Sun City. While sounding a little dated, he had the crowd singing along to the chorus. Just when you thought the night couldn’t get any better, Steven left us with the inspirational Out of the Darkness. A powerful masterpiece.
The 14-piece band were not just there to support Steven. They were part of the whole deal. A five-piece brass section, drummer and a percussionist, two guitarist, two keyboard players and three girl back up singers made the music come alive.
I heard someone say after, “It was great, but it did sound a bit Springsteenish” Yes it did but Little Steven was there with Bruce at the beginning. Maybe Bruce actually sounds a “bit Van Zandty” and just got the better breaks.
Whatever, but if you weren’t there you may have missed the concert of the year. It was that good.