For my November album of the month review it was a toss-up between Jagwar Ma’s Every Now and Then and the second album from Birmingham, Alabama’s eight piece soul outfit, St Paul and the Broken Bones. The reason this lot were even on my radar was due to an outstanding Worthy Farm Other Stage afternoon slot last June which was a performance of the highest quality and they were so sock-knocking-off brilliant that I simply had to catch them again if they played near me. When tickets went on sale a few months ago I jumped at the chance, doubly so as they were booked for the excellent Brudenell Social Club in Leeds. That soon sold out and so the gig was moved to the Leeds Irish Centre, a working men’s club straight out of Life On Mars, complete with the decor – it’s exactly what you’d imagine it to be and I’d been there once before. One of Damon Albarn’s many side projects played, The Good, The Bad and The Queen rocked up there in January 2007 complete with with The Clash’s Paul Simenon armed with his machine gun guitar.
Back again then, and down the front a couple of nights back. Where this band have it above so many I’ve seen in recent times is the charismatic Paul Janeway, who has the moves, the poses and the energy but above all, possesses The. Voice. Man, this guy has pipes. The performance is pure James Brown theatrics (he turns up in a leopard print suit and star-spangled diamond shoes) and he’s there to take us with him on his tour of pleadings to the woman who done him wrong, the heartfelt apologies for fucking things up… and a trip through the audience where he climbs the walls using the passion of the blues, railing against his broken bones and pocket change. This was an hour and half which went by in a fraction of the time, driven by horns and a lead singer of boundless energy and love for his craft and audience and it was time very much well spent.
A mention as well has to go to a fine selection of supporting band. Rarely do you seem to get a decent warm up (we’ve all seen bewildering choices over the years I’m sure) but the splendidly named The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer were really something else. Check this out – Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To. This is awesome. A singer with a harmonica and soundbox, guitarist playing drums with his feet and a gorgeous diva thrown in to boot. Simply joyous.