Blues is their business and business is good!!
You may know him best as a guitarist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band or perhaps as Silvio in the legendary ‘Sopranos’ tv series or even from Netflix’s ‘Lilyhammer’ but during his first UK tour in 25 years Little Steven stopped off in the home of one of his all time favourite bands, a band that inspired him to take up an instrument. Before his evening gig he even put on an intimate matinee gig in the venue that launched the band, okay it’s not the original Cavern but he made it clear it was still an honour to perform there regardless. The inspirational band was of course The Beatles and Tuesday 14th November saw Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul make a stop on their UK tour at the 02 Academy Liverpool.
The room was packed, the lights were down low but in the darkness the crowds excitement becomes audible as a seemingly endless stream of musicians take to the stage, the music kicks in as the stage lights up. Joined on stage by his fellow guitarist, bassist, keys and organ players, brass and woodwind section, a drummer and a percussionist and of course, a trio of backing singers. In fact as the lights came on it was the barnets of the backing singers that got everyone talking, incredible hairdos there! Of course the musical force from such a large ensemble was quality, they proceeded to open up with a roaring trio of tracks including album title track ‘Soulfire.’
Singer, guitarist and leader of the band Steven Van Zandt then took a brief break from the music to address the crowd, he spoke of his long musical career, including his formerly politically focussed music. He even joked about not having to talk about the problem with Trump as the President makes it clear enough himself what a joke he and his administration are, instead he said during this tour and in these “cathedrals” he wanted to take us away from politics for a couple of hours.
I’d have to say that probably my favourite song of the evening came fairly early on, ‘Blues Is My Business’ created an opportunity to showcase the talents of so many within The Disciples of Soul. Both Little Steven and his compadre on guitar let out rip-roaring solos, but the solos from the organ player followed by the trombone player, followed by the keyboardist and another from the saxophonist blue this Urbanista away.
Many other songs were introduced with the inspiration explained for them or an interesting back story of co-writers. Van Zandt spoke of writing ‘Standing In The Line Of Fire’ for Gary U.S. Bonds in the mid eighties but tonight they would play the version as it appears on ‘Soulfire’ reinvigorating and serving as a tribute to the legendary composer Ennio Morricone. More boss tunes came including AC/DC esque ‘Salvation.’ Calling for more integration and less division (straying a little political after all) the band things slowed things down for Little Steven’s ode to Doo Wop ‘The City Weeps Tonight.’
Nearing the end of the night and time to demonstrate an appreciation of another musical genre, this time Reggae and Ska took a nod with ‘Solidarity’ from 1984. The tunes just kept coming, to be honest I was looking forward to this gig but I wasn’t expecting to be so blown away throughout. To finish the night it was time to bring out a quintessential 80s rock number, even vegans can’t deny it’s cheesy goodness, ‘Out of The Darkness’ saw Steven leave the 6 strings to his other guitarist who masterfully corralled the tune, it closed the night on a massive high.
Though many will forever know him as Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist, or as an actor in that show, Little Steven proved why decades after the release of his first solo albums, he is able to pull in a crowd of adoring fans, this Urbanista definitely counts himself as one of them now!