Live Review: St Paul & The Broken Bones

31 March 2016 | 2:03 pm | Lillie Siegenthaler

"Janeway's deep, rustic voice juxtaposes his show-pony attitude, as he playfully dances around and giggles like a schoolgirl."

Eight men in grey suits take to the stage as St Paul & The Broken Bones. Frontman Paul Janeway grins at the audience in a cheesy fashion through vintage spectacles. "Well, this is funky crazy!" he shouts in a thick Alabama accent. Soon the room is filled with infectious chunky bass that pushes us all into a dancing frenzy.

We learn that Janeway has sung in an Alabama church since age four, which explains the gospel style of his vocal inflections. Janeway's deep, rustic voice juxtaposes his show-pony attitude, as he playfully dances around and giggles like a schoolgirl. At one point Janeway takes his bedazzled shoes off and chucks them around the stage. A four-bar intro into a slower song gives Janeway enough time to shed his flamboyant personality and slip on a moody aura. During Grass Is Greener, he squints into the distance with intense longing, as if the whole Titanic film just flashed before him. Some of us look around to see what he's staring at (just the back of the bandroom). We all wait, itching to know the story swirling in his eyes. The boom of his voice tells all moments later. He displays mastery as a soulful vocalist and is also an impeccable storyteller.

A brass trio comprising trombone, baritone saxophone and trumpet bop on the left corner of the stage. Stylish and smooth like three back-up singers, their shoulders shrug in unison as they blast out melodic riffs. The three occasionally take turns to rip out a solo, otherwise layering harmonies that punch groove back into the turnovers. Guitarist Browan Lollar also assists with the occasional solo, his hand a spider crawling freakishly up his fretboard. Organist Al Gamble stares downward as if he's conducting surgery. We learn that the shrill screams we thought were coming from the back of the crowd are actually just the high-pitched wobble of the Hammond floating above the mix.

In one swift movement, the octet clears the stage. After we persistently roar for an encore, Janeway creeps out from the shadows. "Want to hear another song?" he hints, playfully. "Alright, maybe we'll play — another three!"

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