St Paul and the Broken Bones at the Forum
Paul Janeway was stood at the front of the stage. He was still. In front of his face were his two big hands, palms turned to face the ceiling. Smoke swirled around his feet and rose up past his ankles and then his knees and up around the black and gold vestment draped over his shoulders. His eyes were distant, fixed on something above him, gazing past his two outreached hands. Soft ambient music rose and lapped at his sides as the smoke continued to swirl. Suddenly, Janeway broke out of this celestial transfixion, throwing off the vestment to reveal a red suit. The drums rose and the band broke into their latest single, Flow with It (You Got Me Feeling Like). Like a Mighty River followed and was roundly and loudly applauded by a packed Kentish Town Forum, which drew a bashful smile from the singer, who could only say: “We’re only two songs in”.
As frontman of the Broken Bones, Paul Janeway has an energy and physical presence. It is fitting of a man who said he wanted to be a preacher until the age of 19. He stalked the front of the stage and his strong falsetto voice, which reminded one of Samuel T Herring from Future Islands, rang out, reverberating around the hall. The performer’s presence peaked in the song Broken Bones and Pocket Change, a number that he admits, when he sings it, he gets lost in it. At some points, he writhed about the stage, crawling under the drum kit platform to emerge wrapped in a black cloth that hid the wiring, his vocals never wavering.
A highpoint came mid-way through. Janeway paid credit to the musicians and walked off stage as they went into an instrumental. At times, the ensemble sounded like the JBs – James Browns’s backing band – the horns and guitar riffing off each other to add an extra bit of funk. Jesse Phillips, who helped form the Broken Bones, went into a driving bass solo, which led into a cover of The National Anthem by Radiohead, and Janeway returned to the stage to give the cover his soulful vocals. Closing the show, St Paul and the Broken Bones wavered between slower blues numbers and more lively funk tunes, covering Van Morrison’s I’ve Been Working, which got everyone dancing. Thanking Kentish Town, the musicians walked off stage to deafening applause, returning to do a four-song encore. The band kept it funky to the end.
Photos: Nick Bennett
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Watch St Paul and the Broken Bones perform Flow with It here:
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