Soulive Shows Philly What Having Soul is All About
It’s no secret. I love Soulive. Yet, somehow, I have never seen them perform as a trio. Soulive is, at its heart and soul, a trio, but each and every one of the nearly ten times I have seen the band perform, they have done so with guest musicians. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved every second of it. In fact, I was expecting a few guest musicians to join in when I went to see the three-man team of Eric Krasno (guitar), Alan Evans (drums), and Neal Evans (keys) last Thursday for a packed house at the Blockley in Philadelphia.
Imagine my surprise when Soulive proceeded to play strictly as a trio for the entirety of the show. Now, I love me some horns, but while a part of me missed seeing the Shady Horns take the stage with them, seeing Soulive in its classic form was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. The depth of sound that comes out of those three musicians is unbelievable.
Wait, what’s that you say? You hear bass? No, my friend, you’re not hearing a bass guitar. That is Neal freaking Evans, playing the bass line with one hand while at the same time killing his keys solos with the other hand, in a manner that I bet even managed to strike awe in the late Ray Manzarek as he watched from heaven above. And he did so in style, with his spiffy baby blue pants and bad-ass camouflaged bandana.
Krasno showed he can juggle playing multiple instruments (bass and guitar) with multiple bands (including Tedeschi Trucks Band, the Nigel Hall Band, Lettuce, Soulive, and, just the night before playing in Philly, on Conan with the Pretty Lights Band) without missing a beat. In an almost Superman-like fashion he came out in his shiny silver-gray sports coat, dark jeans, and black Nike tennis shoes and showed us all how a real musician does it, killing each and every deliciously soulful guitar solo with ease.
Alan played those drums so hard and passionately that by the time the band completed its first song of the night (“Hat Trick”), the long sleeves of his white button-down dress shirt were literally soaked in sweat. I have no idea how he kept on that fancy silk-lined vest and skinny black tie, but I’m glad he did. Not only did these three men absolutely destroy the night from an instrumental perspective, but they also looked DAMN good doing it.
About midway through the set, the band had the crowd singing along with their cover of “Come Together,” in which the epic musical triad came together in the truest sense of the phrase. The crowd was loving it and singing the words as the band played chorus, and at one point in the song Krasno was soloing with such groovy flow that I never wanted it to end. And they ended the night in sheer perfection, encoring with a nearly fifteen-minute-long rendition of “Steppin’” that could lead fans to only one conclusion: these guys love playing together, and it’s visible in every note they play. The passion is immeasurable.
I left the Blockley that night ecstatic to have had the chance to see these three men play in traditional trio form, and the performance reminded me once again why Soulive is one of my favorite bands to see live. If you are looking for something to do the weekend of August 16, check out Equifunk Music Festival in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. The trio is headlining the festival with the Shady Horns and special guest Maceo Parker, and anyone who catches their set is in for quite the treat. You can get more information on the festival and how to buy tickets here.