The world of music lost a man of importance this week, with the passing of Levon Helm. It seems so many artist performing this week have remembered both the man and his musical legacy. Last night was no different.
The show was Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, with opening act The Trews.
I love opening acts. It's the best way to hear music you haven't heard before, without putting out cash and feeling pissed if they are not exactly what you hoped they would be. You always have the headliner waiting in the wings posed to give you your money's worth...so the opening act is like a little gift. Nice.
The Trews are out of Canada, have been around a while and they rock. The Trews ripped through their set, featuring songs like "Poor Brokenhearted Me", "Hope and Ruin" and "30 Days In The Hole." Giving a nod to Levon with a small lick of "Up On Cripple Creek," it was a moment which really rang true with the audience of older rockers, who grew up on The Band and their musical influences. As a side note, Guitarist John-Angus MacDonald offers the story of his meeting Levon Helm on their website. A very nice tribute.
For this rocker, The Trews were thoroughly enjoyable. Definitely worth a look-see.
Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. It's been a while old friends, thank god you haven't changed.
"To a true musician" so said Johnny as he and the Jukes opened up the night respecting Levon Helm. "The Night They Dove Old Dixie Down" made the crowd realize this night would indeed be special. As the song ended, the house lights went on and Johnny had the crowd singing "na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na" till it was barely a whisper. One remarkable moment to remember.
"Brokedown Piece of Man". Always the showman, Johnny kept the evening interesting, rockin' and a lot of fun. The joy he has in performing was evident throughout the night.
The Jukes, well they are as tight as ever. Mixing rock rhythms, add in some blues, it sometimes feels like a dixieland band. Great keys and vocals by Jeff Kazee gave depth to Johnny's singing. Pulling out a cover of the old Left Banke song "Walk Away Renee," we then got the story. Seems these Jersey shore boys always have a story to tell. As Johnny lamented that he didn't have a "pink cadillac like that other guy..he did have a harmonica in his glove compartment." Pulling out the world's smallest one, the sound he created on it could bring tears to your eyes.
A few of the highlights: "Love on the Wrong Side of Town," "Talk to Me," "I'll Play the Fool" and a sweet version of "Without Love" featuring five of the Jukes singing a wonderfully harmonic backup. The mellow sound of the horns and Johnny's interaction with each member of the band made this song special. A Jersey favorite, everyone was happy to hear "The Fever" and the Jukes pulled out all the stops in playing it.
Leading the encore was "I Don't Want to Go Home" followed by the song everyone wanted to hear "We're Having A Party", yeah we sure were. In another great surprise, The Jukes kicked it up even more by covering The Band's and Levon's "Ophelia"...very nice.
"Hearts of Stone" with only Johnny, Jeff Kazee and guitarist Glenn Alexander taking the stage. The vocals on this felt like they were ripped out of his soul. Spot on perfect.
Toward the end of the show, Johnny talked about being from Jersey and how nice it was to perform for a Jersey crowd.
Well Johnny, it sure as hell was nice having you play.
For the story of the early part of the evening, check out "A Night Of Music, But Wait...A Girl's Gotta Eat" on today's Kat's Theory of Life blog.