Tonight was well worth getting into the Horticulture building early to catch St. Paul & The Broken Bones at the Ottawa CityFolk Festival. The crowd for Van Morrison was so freaking large, and the sound was so freaking subdued that it was pretty easy to make a night out of simply seeing Paul Janeway channel every soul singer ever tonight inside and experience the drive and capacity of his vocal pipes.
Backed by a 7 piece band comprised of trumpet, trombone, baritone sax, vintage guitars, bass, organ and drums, Janeway had directed the band on every power hit with precision. These guys brought their souls from Birgmingham, Alabama to Ottawa for the first time Friday night and were clearly astounded by the possibly unexpected support and crowd enthusiasm for their set. Janeway spent many moments with a shit-eating grin, taking in the crowd's massive response to the end of nearly every tune.
These weren't just tunes, they were epic arrangements with hooks and grooves which built up to some powerful moments. It must take alot of professionalism to suit up and perform with such zest in a room that had just the right temperature to incubate yeast or yogurt. It was very warm and sweaty, as evidenced by wet 3-piece suits and dripping the dripping foreheads of the musicians.
Janeway dropped to the floor so many times with mic in hand to belt out words much like Otis Redding might have done if he were to take on CityFolk festival, or even John Belushi's greatest moments in the Blues Brothers. Nearly any time the lyrics and vibe referenced love, he directed it at people in the crowd pulling them in even further. It was kinda "one of those nights" that will be remembered as a special evening in the history of the festival.
With so many iphones and androids rising above the heads of the crowd, one might expect some sort of speech about recording or paying attention to devices but Paul took full advantage, playing into the phones lenses, singing directly into them. It would be absolutely amazing if someone out there got them all together and made a super cut. This must happen at every show. He absolutely loved to bring everyone close and share his talent for the benefit of their social graphs.
They pretty much played their entire one and only album "Half The City" along with a number of soul covers. One stand-out unexpected cover came in the form of "I Want You" (Beatles). The guitarist switched to a Gibson ES which would mimic John Lennon's Epiphone used on the original recording for perfect tone. They certainly took advantage of the loopy moments of the song without stretching it out too much since it was part of their 3 song encore.
Keep an eye out for St. Paul & The Broken Bones as there's no doubt they will return once again for another festival in Ottawa after this performance.