St Paul and the Broken Bones at the Roundhouse
Eight-piece soul band St Paul and the Broken Bones take to the stage at Camden’s Roundhouse for the final show and the last UK date in their two-and-a-half-month European tour. Playing an anthology of the three albums released since they formed in 2012, the Alabama-based octet bring the house down with their musical prowess and incredible soulful sound.
Frontman Paul Janeway swoops into view in a theatrical sequinned cape, sparkling before a backdrop of starry fairy-lights. With slightly more understated attire, the rest of the band take to their posts to open the show, starting with the emotive track Liv Without U – taken from their new album Young Sick Camellia (2018). Janeway’s fervid vocals immediately soar to heavenly pitches, his breathtaking falsetto range never once losing traction as he rapidly captivates his audience.
The crowd sway along to the lead singer’s personal favourite, Grass is Greener – from debut album Half the City, (2014) – and their fevered claps crescendo for the more upbeat Got It Bad, where the lyrics “gun-shaped bible and a loaded tongue, Jesus ain’t the problem but he started one” certainly do not tip-toe around any potential controversy.
Janeway’s songwriting, a thoughtful collaboration with guitarist Jesse Phillips, offers insights to the religious and political roots of the Deep South. The new album is enhanced by working with music producer Jack Splash and reflects deeply upon relationships between different generations in an ever-changing world of digital advancement – primarily those of his father and grandfather.
The frontman then steps aside to let his musicians shine: a trombone solo and a tremendous “music-off” with fellow saxophonist keep the crowd enchanted, whilst the beautiful ballad Bruised Fruit – another of their recent releases – simply melts the emotions. The ensemble’s mutual respect for each other is impenetrable as Janeway compliments them as the “best band in the world”.
As their parting number Broken Bones and Pocket Change plays them out, the lead singer promptly walks off stage with his mic to wander through the crowd and high-five audience members. He pauses to stand on a ledge and deliver the final lyrics: “Ain’t nobody gonna love me; I’ll just stand here, all alone”. It’s safe to say there’s absolutely no chance of that with the devout following we see tonight.
Photos: Nick Bennet
For further information and future events visit St Paul and the Broken Bones’ website here.
Watch the video for All I Ever Wonder here: