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Review: St. Paul and the Broken Bones at The Michigan Theater – 10.8.18

st. paul and the broken bones

by David Gimpel

“Alright Ann Arbor, it’s time to shake your ass!” – Saint Paul Janeway

St. Paul and the Broken Bones are out on the road in support of their latest album, Young Sick Camellia. The new album is treading more experimental ground than many fans probably expected, and only time will tell how the fans receive it. One thing will always remain true: this band is magic on the stage.

The lights dimmed and the band took the stage, looking sharp and setting the groove. Lead singer Paul Janeway came out last, wearing a bright, shiny cape with matching glittery shoes and the crowd absolutely loved it. (Imagine a bird at Elton John’s house and you a good idea of what he looked like.) He started wailing the lyrics to “Livewithoutu” and the crowd knew church was in session.

The band flowed effortlessly from song to song, never losing steam while having the audience fully engaged. They played fan favorites like the groovy “Flow With It,” “All I Ever Wonder,” and one of my personal favorites, “Like A Mighty River.” Janeway uses skills to have the audience moving along with him. His dancing is really a site to see.
Paul Janeway was a preacher in Alabama before he became the soul singing show stopper. His engagement with the crowd and spontaneous spats of energy are what keep me coming back again and again. This time, we got to see some new elements to their live show.

The track “Mr. Invisible” showcased the new sound St. Paul and the Broken Bones have been experimenting with. The beat has hip-hop and electronic flavors to it, along with a melody that seemed inspired by listening to a lot of Radiohead. Janeway would sing the refrain “Happiness is gone. Throw it all away” into a looped effects pedal to manipulate his vocals. It was very unique.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

St. Paul and the Broken Bones are expanding their pallet with some intense songs that tug on your heartstrings. The main set closed with “Bruised Fruit.” Now, as many shows as I’ve been to, I’ve never seen a singer nearly break down mid song before. Janeway was incredibly emotional while singing “You’re in me when I leave, ‘til the lights go out someday.” He walked off stage, followed by each member of the band, one by one.

When they returned to the stage, Janewau made a request of the audience to not to scream silly stuff during the quiet moments of the next song. After keeping the crowd hyped for an hour straight, it was nice to bring us back to earth with a slower tune. However, after the beautiful, emotional song “Hurricanes,” they brought the groove back to close out the night.

They cut into the fan favorite “Call Me,” which would have ended the night perfectly, but they found a way to outdo themselves. Janeway said, “For this last song, I’m gonna come out and see y’all.” As you could imagine, the crowd went nuts. Janeway then proceeded to walk into the crowd, high-fiving and hugging his congregation. Making his way to the back of the main floor, Paul stood on top of the chairs and tossed his glittery shoes into the crowd. All while singing “Broken Bones and Pocket Change” without missing a beat. He reached the stage for the final moments of the song and basked in the glorious love the band created that night. Seeing St. Paul and the Broken Bones always feels like a religious experience, and I’m a proud member of the congregation.

Flow With It (You Got Me Feeling Like)
All I Ever Wonder
Like A Mighty River
Grass Is Greener
Band Instrumental 1
Mr. Invisible
Got It Bad
Band Instrumental 2
Bruised Fruit
Half The City
Call Me
Broken Bones & Pocket Change

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