Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul at the Roundhouse, 4 November 2017

Last Saturday, I went with my friends Jon and Dave to see Steve van Zandt and his band, the Disciples of Soul, at the Roundhouse. It was his first solo tour for 25 years, although he has been in the E Street Band, supporting Bruce Springsteen, as well as making a name for himself as an actor, in “The Sopranos” and, more recently, “Lillyhammer”. A man of many talents. He and the band released a new album in May this year, called “Soulfire”. It, like the show, is a celebration of the music that inspired Stevie: rock’n’roll, soul, doo-wop and the blues. There’s a strong link to the music of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes too, with the horns to the fore. No surprise about that – Stevie wrote some of Southside’s best tunes, like “I Don’t Wanna Go Home”.

So we were expecting a feelgood show, and that’s exactly what we got, for more than two hours. Stevie talked at the beginning about how his 80s shows were political, at a time when it was hard to find out what was going on. Now politics is in our faces 24/7, and it was Stevie’s mission tonight to provide us with a sanctuary.

The new album formed the basis of the show. I particularly liked “I’m Coming Back”, which was straight out of the Springsteen/ Southside song book. If you know your Bruce, think the uptempo songs on “The River”, or all the songs from the late 70s that didn’t make the main albums, but made a fine contribution to the “Tracks” compilation. The band was excellent: rocking guitars, soaring brass, soulful backing vocals and a tight rhythm section. These guys all knew how to play. So what could have been a standard run through the sounds of old really did sparkle. Never a dull moment!

One of the highlights for me was a lengthy reggae workout, which, I read elsewhere, was called “Solidarity”. Now, rock bands playing reggae are usually best avoided – the Clash and Police honourable exceptions. But Stevie and the band, especially the bassist, who laid down a languid dub wise rhythm, really captured the spirit of the music. The horns played their part like they were part of the Wailers, while the bass and guitars echoed and swayed  in a way I would never have expected. I doubt Bruce could have done this, or would even want to. Top marks to Stevie.

The encore was memorable too. Second of three songs was a wonderful version of “I Don’t Wanna Go Home”, but it had to play second fiddle to the opener. Sir Macca of Liverpool – no less than Paul McCartney – only came on to play guitar and sing along to “I Saw Her Standing There”! Whoo-hoo!

Can’t remember much about the third song after those two, but what a great way to end a magnificent show. A two hour celebration of why we love rock’n’roll. We didn’t wanna go home!

And check out this video clip of Stevie and Macca from Rolling Stone magazine. With thanks to Dave for spotting.


About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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4 Responses to Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul at the Roundhouse, 4 November 2017

  1. dc says:

    Best gig this year for me- just brilliant – all styles of music performed superbly. Can’t believe he’s making any money out of it with such a huge band but am sure he’s having an absolute ball- like we did on the night. And Macca gracing the finale- unforgettable night.

    • John S says:

      A great one for sure. Not my very best: Honeyblood at Koko, Car Seat Headrest at Gorilla, Manchester, U2 at Twickenham, London Grammar at Brixton Academy my top 4, not counting festivals. A few more good ‘uns to come too, like War on Drugs and Wolf Alice.

  2. Dood says:

    All agreed, to the letter. What I loved about it was that it was totally engaging, from start to finish, even though I knew remarkably few of the songs. That must be the sign of a great band.

    I was thinking about the economics too. He’ll gross £30K a night in ticket sales if he sells out the Roundhouse, but you can certainly see where the money goes.

    But what I loved about it was his spirit of joy and generosity – to the audience, the band, Macca, the memories, and the music. Amazing.

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