For the second year in a row, we’ve celebrated the New Year at my personal favorite venue on the planet, the Louisville Palace. Last year, we rocked our way into 2017 with Southern Rockers, Blackberry Smoke. That was a truly fantastic night of fun, but on an absolutely frigid Sunday night, Church was held at the Louisville Palace.
The War & Treaty kicked off the night. I scanned a couple of tracks online before the show, but with the hectic schedule of the holidays, I was really going into their set blindly. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t my best move, but after the fact, I wouldn’t change a thing. Why? Glad you asked. Have you ever received a totally unexpected gift that caused a huge cheesy grin that you simply couldn’t wipe off your face for no amount of money? Good. Now you exactly how I felt the moment the husband and wife duo opened their mouths.
I felt like Jake and Elwood from the Blues Brothers movie when they entered the Church where James Brown was gettin down! There weren’t any cartwheels or backflips from me, but I definitely saw the light and that light was shining bright from Michael Trotter, Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter. Have mercy!
The War And Treaty blew my socks off. It was cold, but I didn’t mind at all! In fact, I hope I’m able to lose my socks on a regular basis. My highlights of the set were “Down To The River”, “Let Me Hold You” (Which get them their first standing ovation of the night), and the absolutely stunning “Are You Ready To Love Me”. This band has a huge future and I’m glad I was able to be a witness!
In 2017, I had a huge year in concerts. I saw many superstars in music, many of which I had never seen before. I will have a difficult time topping a list that included Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Alabama, Charlie Daniels, Lady Gaga, Chris Stapleton, Stevie Nicks, Ozzy Osbourne, Run The Jewels, Sturgill Simpson, Joe Bonamassa, Five Finger Death Punch and so many more. I’m very blessed to do what I do and 2017 had one last cherry to top off the year. Seeing St. Paul & The Broken Bones has been a bucket list item for quite some time for me. It seems that every time the band was within driving distance, I had something that prevented me from attending. Thankfully, I was finally able to catch them on New Year’s Eve none the less.
My mind was racing through so many thoughts though. I made myself a nervous wreck, for absolutely no reason at all. I kept thinking is this going to be worth the wait? Did I have too high of expectations? Did I set the bar too high? Rarely do I struggle like that when seeing a concert, but St. Paul & The Broken Bones is something that I have waited years for. A friend and fellow writer who lives near Chicago has seen them several times and she has taken the time at each show to call me and let me hear “Broken Bones And Pocket Change”. Now that may seem like I’m being a bit of a fanboy here and there may be a bit of that happening, but I always try to be honest in my articles.
So let’s do a little backstory here. I have covered many different musical genres in my writing and photography career. I like what I like, but I always appreciate talent for what it is, even if I don’t enjoy the music on a personal level. That’s actually something that I am very proud of. Having said that, there are those bands or artists that hold a special place in my heart and often times my life. One of those artists happens to be Otis Redding. For my money, there is no better voice to ever be recorded. His soul, the soul of those old Stax records light my soul on fire. I can be having the worst day of my life, but if I hear one note of Otis, my whole demeanor changes. That may sound silly, but I assure you it’s true.
By now, you’re probably thinking what on earth does all of that have to do with this article. Well, it’s quite simple actually. Paul Janeway has one of two voices that I have ever heard that come close to reaching my soul in the way that Otis does. The other? Anderson East, who I also saw in 2017 with Chris Stapleton. All of this adds up to why I was nervous about the show.
Was any of that pressure necessary? Absolutely not.
After the uplifting experience of The War And The Treaty and a small set changeover, the time had come to experience something magical and once the curtain lifted, all my worries vanished with it. St. Paul & The Broken Bones took the stage and proceeded to deliver one of my favorite performances on the year. Hell, maybe even in my lifetime.
The band delivered many of my favorite songs from their two albums and seemed to genuinely be enjoying themselves. Louisville was certainly enjoying themselves as seemingly everyone in the crowd was up and dancing, myself included. A few were more swaying than dancing, but that was just the alcohol. It was New Year’s Eve, after all. Ha!
There were so many highlights that I could just about write a book, but this is an article, so let me touch on a few moments that really stuck with me. The night began just like their latest album. Taking the stage to the intro, “Crumbling Light” and wasting no time gettin funky with “Flow With It”. The band set the tone for the entire evening.
“All I Ever Wonder” is such a great song and by this point in the set, the band was absolutely on fire. The crowd was fully engaged and by the time the band hit the first notes of “Grass Is Greener”, the roars were almost overpowering the band. It was at this point that I took off my journalist hat and just enjoyed myself. I’m sure I was off key, but so was everyone else and we all sang backing vocals on this night.
Now I spent a lot of time telling you about Paul Janeway’s voice and I also mentioned my love for the song, “Broken Bones And Pocket Change”, so when it came around in this set I simply couldn’t contain myself. Just like Otis before him, Paul lit my soul on fire. All I could do was close my eyes and sing along. It was that moment when this concert became an experience. A small piece of time in my life that I will never forget. I felt as much joy and peace as I ever have, then my heart nearly jumped out my chest when they tore into the song that put them on the map, “Call Me”. Holy shit! What a night!!
My dancing only intensified as the night continued, then it happened. The band was playing a lengthy set because of New Year’s, so I was hoping for a few covers and let me say that they did not disappoint in that regard. There were several on the night, but none more impressive or important to me than the two Otis Redding tracks. “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and “Shake” collectively blew my mind. Sam Cooke originally wrote “Shake”, but St. Paul & The Broken Bones perform the more aggressive version by Otis Redding. This was the closest I will ever get to being able to see or hear Otis Redding live and I am forever grateful for this performance.
There was another moment that I didn’t write about yet and one that will make any and all St. Paul & The Broken Bones fan happy. Paul stated that the band was currently working on new material and we would be getting a new album in 2018. My advice? Start saving those pennies for a new album and tour later this year. You’ll thank me later.
You can keep track of St. Paul & The Broken Bones here.