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Concert Review: St. Paul and the Broken Bones at The Fillmore Detroit

by Taylar Kobylas

Someone recently described St. Paul and the Broken Bones to me as “an alternative southern gospel except with bluesy lyrics, dancey pickups and the poppy soul of the Alabama Shakes.” My response? “So they’re not easily defined, huh? Yep, sounds about right.”

St. Paul’s set at the Fillmore last week attracted maybe the widest range of audiences I’ve seen in a while. All walks of life were represented from (what I guessed were) grandparents, to rockabilly millennial hipsters, to Detroit steam punk fanatics.

The insatiable Diane Coffee opened for St. Paul, oozing a 70s vibes and a flirtatiousness for the audience that carried over into the opening act. In the window between the opener and headline, members of the audience were also audibly requesting, “Call Me” as if catcalling the group to the stage.

In the spirit of grand theatrics, St. Paul and the Broken Bones opened with the velvet curtain raising and all things golden appearing onstage. A golden mic shimmered in the spotlight. A golden dance pad adhered to the stage (a sandy surface made for moonwalks, something I’d imagine Beyoncé has in her living room). And the backdrop was their iconic, art deco golden logo.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

As if the Midas touch wasn’t enough, lead singer Paul Janeway started the show shrouded in a golden cape, golden wing tip shoes and the snappiest red suit you could imagine. It was nothing short of magical.

The music was just as fabulous as the atmosphere they teed up. They started with the catchy “Flow With It (You’ve Got Me Feeling Like)” warranting Janeway to glide around the stage as if he’d been doing it for decades. Falsetto high notes gave way for spotlights of the band’s horn section with a mix of both upbeat jams and intensified bluesy ballads.

Perhaps my favorite part, though, was witnessing this incredible energy that St. Paul shared with the fans. On more than one occasion, Janeway gestured to the audience with a “come hither” motion. He referred to onlookers as “baby,” and made them feel like the only ones in the room. It was sexy, it was fascinating and it still retained 100% of the St. Paul vibe.

So the next time you need some “all the feels” music that is as boogie-worthy as it is thought provoking, look no further than St. Paul and the Broken Bones.


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