Review: Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul at The Count Basie Theater

The icing on the cake was a special unannounced appearance by Bruce Springsteen.

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The man himself called it the CD release party, an event name that is nice to hear in 2017. It wasn’t an Apple Music, Spotify, or Pandora party, but rather the physicality was there. Steven Van Zandt, aka Little Steven, and The Disciples of Soul had a homecoming at The Count Basie Theater last night, May 27th, 2017. The show is the first of this year’s tour for the group and comes as a form of celebration for the release of Soulfire. This is Little Stevens first solo record in over a decade, 18 years to be exact.

The show kicked off with a rousing version of Soulfire, the title track of the record. Which got the crowd up out of the seats of The Count Basie Theater right off the bat. The Disciples of Soul were not messing around; they were tight from the get go. And the songs live were quite similar to the album versions with some spice thrown in here or there. The scorching guitar solo on this track was just as well live and demonstrated the power of the band early on. Little Steven pulled quite a few tracks from the album and put them in the live set, moving into I’m Coming Back which signifies his return to a focus on a solo music career.

Steven Van Zandt has a had long career and has worked with many artists; he decided to take Darlene Love’s Among The Believers and put into the third slot for the evening. After that he hit a blues and jazzy note with Blues Is My Business–Another track off of Soulfire. The dynamic and practice of the band shine through in the many different genres they can perform. This was already shown in the studio with the way the record turned out, and it was reaffirmed on stage. You have a full five-piece horn section, a percussion player, a drummer, a guitarist, a bass guitarist, a pianist, an organist, three fantastic┬ávocalists, and of course Little Steven.

We heard rock, soul, doo-wop, jazz, blues, and more. At times they moved into a slightly smaller format for tracks like Princess of Little Italy. And tracks like this one show the depth of Little Stevens library and his self-education of music. This man has a wealth of knowledge and is incredibly talented, he has also put together a fantastic band. For those who have been following him since the beginning, he broke out some of his early protest tracks including I Am A Patriot and Solidarity.

It might have been the hometown crowd, but they loved it, and many were singing along to the older tracks. It was evident that Little Steven was in a fantastic mood and came to turn the heat up to 10. The stage setup was wicked cool with an impressive backdrop and epic lighting.

The icing on the cake for this New Jersey crowd was Little Steven’s friend who is currently out of work. And just like that Bruce Springsteen appeared unannounced with a guitar and the two old friends were back at it again. The Boss stayed on with Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul for a full four songs– Including It’s Been A Long Time, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, I Don’t Wanna Go Home, and Can I Get A Witness.

While the surprise guest was a highlight and the magic of both Little Steven and Bruce Springsteen on stage performing together is something that doesn’t go away easily, the show was fantastic. Little Steven and The Disciples Of Show put on a terrific show that has them combining new favorites with classics, it is a mix that works incredibly well and delivers a pure Jersey Soul sound. I am hoping that they will bring the tour back to the United States, but for now, they are headed to Europe for a series of dates beginning in June and going until August.

Setlist

Soulfire

I’m Coming Back

Among The Believers

Blues Is My Business

Love On The Wrong Side Of Town

Until The Good Is Gone

Standing In The Line Of Fire

I Saw The Light

Something’s Just Don’t Change

Saint Valentine’s Day

Salvation

The City Weeps Tonight

Down And Out In New York City

Princess of Little Italy

The Time Of Your Life

Solidarity

Leonard Peltier

I Am A Patriot

Ride The Night Away

Bitter Fruit

Forever

It’s Been A Long Time— With Bruce Springsteen

Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out— With Bruce Springsteen

I Don’t Wanna Go Home— With Bruce Springsteen

Can I Get A Witness— With Bruce Springsteen

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