- 24 Aug 19
Their Dublin show last night leaves our man Stuart Clark enraptured...
Sister Rosetta Thorpe, Muddy Waters, The Drifters, Little Richard, Walter and Anthony, Dean Martin, Chuck Berry, Elvis, Sam Cooke, Phil Spector, Leiber and Stoller, Goffin and King, The Ronettes, The Chiffons, The Shangri-Las, the British Invasion bands, Ennio Morricone, Lalo Schifrin, The Beach Boys, Isaac Hayes, Bobby Womack, Sly, The Clash and Prince.
Those are some of the trace elements tonight as Steve Van Zandt and his Disciples celebrate eight decades of gospel, doo-wop, crooning, jazz, rock, pop, soul, funk and all the other elements that go into the Jersey Shore stew that’s kept him, Bruce, Southside Johnny and the rest of the gang nourished throughout their careers.
The elements might at times seem disparate, but with Steve knitting them all together with his between song raps – I know someone else who should be bringing his one man show to Broadway – it’s a seamless revue-style affair that nods to another of his heroes, James Brown.
Of course, Van Zandt brings plenty of his own artistry to a twenty-three-song set, which kicks off, as his new Summer Of Sorcery album does, with the stomping call to arms that is ‘Communion’. When Steve orders them to “take it to the bridge”, the brass section obliges with a serious display of synchronised parping. Not for the last time tonight, the honours ultimately go to Jessie Wagner, Sarah Devine and Tania Jones, the Disciples’ holy triumvirate of singers who also know how to bust out the Soul Train dance moves. I’m not trying to break up a happy home but, boy, imagine the album they'd make together.
Other new record highlights include ‘Vortex’, which soundtracks a never made Blaxpoitation movie; the high school promenading ‘Soul Power Twist’; and ‘Summer Of Sorcery’ itself, which starts with strummed acoustic guitar and finishes with a Spectorish Wall of Sound.
With the silver-tressed Lowell ‘Banana’ Levinger from the Youngbloods on keys, it’s only right that we're treated to a taste of that great Greenwich Village band’s ‘60s psych-folk whimsy, ‘On Sir Francis Drake’.
The far-right baiting ‘I Am A Patriot’ and Latino-flavoured ‘Bitter Fruit’ are a reminder of the not inconsiderable solo success Steven enjoyed during the ‘80s and ‘90s when on sabbatical from the E Street Band who, according to the chatter Hot Press has been hearing, will be over in Ireland next summer.
That thought adds extra spice to the mid-set airing of three songs – ‘Little Girl So Fine’, ‘Trapped Again’ and ‘Love On The Wrong Side Of Town’ – that Steve and The Boss wrote for the aforementioned Southside.
“Bruce is out of work at the moment, so we’ve got to keep the royalties rolling in,” Steve deadpans as he embarks on a trip down Asbury Park memory lane.
“We’re revisting the past,” he adds, “so we can get the fuck out of the present!” Amen to that, brother.
The Disciples manage to squeeze in some duck walking, sombrero wearing and percussion battling before a rare airing of the Artists United Against Apartheid anthem, ‘Sun City’ and another ‘80s MTV hit of Steve’s, ‘Out Of The Darkness’, triumphantly take them over the finish line.