Live review: St Paul and the Broken Bones
Paul Janeway and his ensemble stir up Celtic Connections
Thanks the gods of all that's great in music that the members of St Paul and the Broken Bones found each other before giving up music and getting proper jobs – because the outpouring of soul is what this virtuoso Alabama outfit were made for.
Frontman Paul Janeway is the principal scene-stealer from the moment he casts off his preacher's cape and gets down. This unlikely soul sensation has a remarkable rhythm'n'blues voice. Refreshingly, he doesn't indulge in melismatic acrobatics but invests his delivery with sheer supple dynamism and radiates such passion and commitment that even when he is larking about – collapsing to the floor, crawling under the drum riser, tossing his shoes about – this never detracts from the credibility of his performance.
But The Broken Bones are dazzling too, a southern Dap-Kings-style ensemble who can turn their hand to a variety of soul, funk and jazz flavours and convince utterly that they are saturated in the tradition. Their three-piece horn section are maestros, bringing a hard bop edge or dreamy psych soul shading as required; meanwhile, drummer Andrew Lee beams like he can't quite believe he's getting paid to play with these cats.
Janeway was duly transported by the flute solo on one trippy Blaxploitation funk number, but really got the audience hot under the collar with the steamy southern soul ballads, playing it supersweet and seductive on 'Broken Bones and Pocket Change', on which he allows himself a few decorative trills.
The sultry epic 'Sanctify' blends the sacred and profane, as ecclesiastical organ rubs up beside vocal ecstasy. There is a special communion at play here, not just between the members of his ridiculously talented ensemble but also with their Celtic Connections audience who took on the role of extrovert Baptist congregation.
Seen at ABC, Glasgow, Sun 29 Jan; touring the UK until Fri 3 Feb.