Maybe I’m just a real music nerd but when I walk into a room, or in this case Sydney’s Metro Theatre, and see a full brass section, I know I’m going to be frothing later on in the night. Walking into the Metro and seeing the full stage set up of St. Paul & The Broken Bones, I went from standard Monday night to super stoked in less than twelve parsecs. I knew the best of sets was about to go down and oh lawdy, did the Alabama eight piece deliver.
Opening up the night was Moruya local and Sydney resident Alice Terry. Gracing the stage with solely her guitar and a juicy set of lungs, she went about doing her thing and delivered a sweet and sultry half hour set. Terry was incredibly personable, something you probably have to be as a solo artist.
Speaking of her love of her hometown, despite describing it as, ‘a little bit, you know, redneck bogan’, Terry’s delivery of her track “Home” was anything but redneck or bogan. With her debut album out later on in the year, keep an eye and ear out for Alice Terry if you’re into something that sounds like a sweet mix between The Waifs, Adele and Kim Churchill.
In town for Bluesfest over the Easter weekend, St. Paul & The Broken Bones got straight into the swing of things, as the band tore through an instrumental piece for a solid couple of minutes, before front man Paul Janeway made his way out on stage. The first thing you need to know about Jazz, Soul & Gospel bands, is that they’re always impeccably dressed. I thought it was going to be hard to top Leon Bridges and his band (who played the same venue back in January), but I’d like to think the Broken Bones topped that.
Their set was fire from the get go, much like their debut album Half The City. Opening up the night with “Don’t Mean A Thing” and my personal favourite, “Sugar Dyed”, it was already safe to assume the next 70 minutes were going to be tight. The best thing about opening the night with tracks as upbeat and ready to party as these were, is that the band will instantaneously get the crowd in the mood to do exactly that: party.
After introducing themselves, the band quickly moved into “I’m Torn Up”, which slowed the evening down just a little and let the horns take control. Swiftly moving into their first cover of the night (a jaunty cover of Van Morrison’s “I’ve Been Working”), it was great to see the crowd really just lose themselves in the moment. The Vince Vaughn lookalike on the saxophone took control on the track and made his presence felt for the first time.
Now, I’m not going to lie to you here. I got carried away in how good the music and gravitational pull of front man Janeway was, and completely forgot to take notes on the middle stage of the set. All that I can tell you is that the biggest round of applause for the night came from “Broken Bones & Pocket Change”, and the love was clearly reciprocated by the band. They were affable and quite gracious and grateful that they could come to the other side of the world, play their first Australian show and receive nothing but love. It was refreshing to see a band be genuinely overwhelmed from a loving crowd. The positivity in the room was near infectious.
Apologising that they only had one song left (before politely acknowledging that if the crowd were nice enough they’d come back out for one more), the Broken Bones closed out with “Like A Mighty River”.
As promised, the band soon returned for a three-song encore, before closing on lead single “Call Me”. The band spoke through out the night of their love for Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, which was easily noticeable through out their delivery, style and general nature on stage. It was great to be thrown back to a time well before mine, where the music was truly heartfelt, performed with full gusto, and encouraged nothing but a good time; political agendas nowhere to be seen. St. Paul & The Broken Bones smashed The Metro stage, and most definitely left me frothin’.