Two Nights of Soulive 12.17.10 & 12.18.10
Words & Photos By J-man
Soulive is one of those bands that won't let you down. I have been seeing them for almost ten years, and what I can tell you is this: They bring it every night. Consistently. And they have been doing so for years... I can't recall ever seeing a bad Soulive show. Their aggressive approach to the music creates a high-energy vibe that's almost untouchable on the scene. I was fortunate to catch Soulive at the end of their "Rubber Soulive" tour, for two nights at Cervantes' Masterpiece Theater in Denver, CO.
I anticipated a hefty amount of Beatles tunes and Friday night they delivered. Let me first say, that I am not the biggest Beatles fan (Though I do respect their contribution to music). I did however really dig Soulive's album "Rubber Soulive", though I do much prefer the band's original music.
With the venue packed, the trio proceeded to absolutely destroy a combination of both Beatles and Soulive tunes. Eric Krasno's command of the guitar is mind blowing. The combination of his ability to nail every note, with expressive tones make him one of the most impressive guitarist's on the scene. Though, not always recognized as such, it's clear to me that he has progressed a great deal in the ten years that I have been seeing the band.
Alan Evans' precise groove on the drums had Cervantes' going crazy. He reads the direction of the music really well and leads with force. His serious look reflected his focus. His brother Neal Evans, located on the opposite side of the stage, plays a dual part in the band. As Soulive has no Bass player, Neal covers both the organ and bass parts. With one hand he holds the notes for an almost uncomfortable length of time and the other he tears through the melodies. Soulive reflects mature, calculated music with strong chemistry, yet at the same time brings more rage than most bands on the scene.
The Shady Horns (Sam Kininger and Ryan Zoidis), were also present to add a funky layer to the Soulive vibe. I really dig the sound scape that Sam and Ryan create. Their sound is so full and pure sounding. Nigel Hall also joined the band on keys, and with the addition of the stage hand running back and for the accommodate Alan, they stage was pretty full.
Saturday evening Cervantes' would play host to Soulive's James Brown tribute, which clearly meant: an evening of funk. Over the years, Soulive has incorporated different sounds, styles, and musicians. But, none have effected/changed the band as much as Nigel Hall. I appreciate what Nigel does, but when I go to see Soulive, I much prefer the straight ahead jazz styling of the trio. Though, I understand his role in relation to the band. Being that it was a funk tribute, I knew prior to the show that we were in for a large dose of Nigel.
Cervantes' was even more packed than the previous evening, with an even higher level of energy. Folks had come to funk out. Soulive proceeded with a handful of instrumental driven jams ending the first set early, leaving me to wonder if they were going to do three sets.
At the start of the second set in the James Brown fashion, Nigel Hall was introduced. With the accompaniment of the Shady Horns, Soulive delivered the funk. Throughout the second set there were issues with the drums and the mics. All of a sudden I would notice the mic stand going down, or a portion of the drum set falling apart and stage tech's literally running and sliding across the stage. It got to the point where Alan kicked over the mic stand out of anger/frustration and it went flying across the stage. For the remainder of the show Alan tore apart the seemingly clueless stage hand. It was distracting, unprofessional and left those who noticed, scratching their heads.
Soulive closed the set around one o'clock am, wrapping up their encore by one fifteen. The lights came on and folks began to look around in a confused fashion... For a band that rages it like Soulive, I had anticipated a late encore. I was mistaken.
The two nights at Cervantes' with Soulive were extremely enjoyable with the exception of a few stage/sound issues. They are a band at the top of their musical game. If you get a chance to catch Soulive, don't pass it by...
J-man's full photo album from the show.