Outside, the onslaught of sonic energy emanating from Revolution Hall on Friday night had the building rocking on its River Street foundation. Inside, the power-trio Soulive churned loud, electric, funky-jazzy-blues sounds to a packed house of people lost in the groove.
Throughout the night, Neal Evans’ fingers danced around and in between three tiers of organ-clavinet-synthesizer keyboards, while his brother Alan’s sticks continually whirled from one end of the drum kit to the other. Smack in the middle, guitarist Eric Krasno embodied stoic coolness as his frenzied fingers madly traversed the fretboard.
Soulive formed as a collaborative trio a little over 10 years ago and released “Get Down” which caught the attention of the jam-band world because they could lay down a groove and jam the hell out of it. Jazz fans took note because they – not unlike Medeski Martin & Wood – were a modern continuation of the classic Hammond B-3 organ-trio tradition immortalized by Jimmy Smith, Big John Patton and Groove Holmes. The rock audience embraced them because they carried on the spirit, virtuosity and intensity of Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
Soulive’s latest album, “Up Here” on Royal Family Records, includes a killer horn section and soulful vocalist Nigel Hall, bringing their sound closer to that of the Neville Brothers Band or Tower Of Power. However, on this current national tour, the trio pared back to the essentials, jettisoning the singer and the horns to return to their roots – an electrifying fusion of blues, rock, funk and jazz.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk