Golden Shoes Come With Broken Bones
After seeing these funky guys twice at Bluesfest, Byron Bay, I was ready for another night of dancing and laughter, and can I just tell you, I was not disappointed. I dodged my way through the smell of sweat and stale beer and I felt the eruption of rapid stomps on the ground as the crowd eagerly awaited the bold man in the golden cape and shoes with the rest of his band, which make up the six-piece soul band from Alabama, U.S.A, St. Paul and the Broken Bones. The show started with ”Crumbling Light Posts, Pt. 1”, the first track from their latest album, Sea of Noise. Lead singer, Paul Janeway’s, soulful, effortless voice gave me that feeling you get when you eat a really good donut. That “oh wow, I want more”, kind of reaction. The first thing I thought when I saw these guys, was how unbelievably well they dressed, in their suit and ties. It made me feel a little embarrassed about the mismatched socks I was wearing. But their presentation wasn’t the only thing they had going for them.
At first the six-piece band looked a little claustrophobic on the small stage of Town Hall’s Metro Theatre, and it wasn’t until Janeway dramatically threw his cape behind him, and grooved energetically around the stage to the huge sounds of the three brass players, that the audience began to shake their hips. Janeway intertwined his magical and belting vocals with the brass band, percussion, the electric guitarist and the funky bass player. He weaved his way around the band for each song, stopping only to pull off his shoe and throw it to the audience in light of the lyrics, or to lie on the floor, pounding his heart for effect, as he sang of love and heartbreak.
As he took a breather to let the band “do their thing”, he skulled his bottle of water, only to spray it back out all over the stage. The towel he used to wipe the constant stream of sweat from his face only proved how much fun he was having up there. The band looked as though they’d seen him do this all before, and were seemingly nonplussed by his theatrical movements. His attire did well to accentuate his performance, equipped with golden shoes, and a multi-coloured suit jacket. Janeway was not shy, that’s for sure, which allowed him to experiment with his voice and movements as he belted, “I’ll be your woman”, shaping the word “woman” with his hand as he did so.
Their brass-y cover of Tame Impala’s “Eventually”, hit the original out of the park. Janeway seemed to understand and feel the song’s lyrics as if they were his own. He had us all in almost-tears wondering who the heck broke his heart and why, oh, why?
Although he put on an animated show, Janeway never pretended the audience was invisible. He had us doing a sing-along to their cover of the Beatle’s classic, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, giving us that nostalgia with a big-band twist. Janeway invited us to sing along to their original ballads from their first album, Half The City, as well as newer ones with him, in harmony, “is it hell, is it home, or is it me?”
Well, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, you and your heavenly tendencies definitely made it feel like home to me.