Coinciding with the 2015 Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference, legions of Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes fans packed into B.B. King Blues Club in the heart of New York City’s famed Times Square and received a special treat- a short set by Darlene Love– which turned this into a very special night of great music.
Darlene Love and her extraordinary band of musicians and singers not only did the 1960’s Ellie Greenwich/Jeff Barry penned rock and roll hits like “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “The Boy I’m Gonna Marry” in her thirty minute set, but also a soulful medley of “Killing Me Softly,” “Where Is The Love” and “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” followed by show stopping anthems, “He’s A Rebel” and “River Deep Mountain High.”
With her ever youthful inner beauty, voice and stage moves, Ms. Love continues to make audiences feel as if she’s just starting out on a career that has, in reality, spanned more than five decades. Indeed, Ms. Love is moving into what promises to be another music-filled decade with a new studio album recorded and produced by long time Darlene Love aficionado, Steven Van Zandt, featuring Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen.
The joint was jumpin’ as soon as Southside Johnny and the present incarnation of the famed Asbury Jukes took to the stage. The eight piece musical entourage began their rhythm and blues infused, two hour 24 song set with fan favorites “Hard To Find,” “Passion Street” and “Love On The Wrong Side of Town.”
Jeff Kazee showed off his vocal and delta blues piano prowess on “Umbrella In My Drink” and “Diggin My Potatoes,” which was preceded by some of Southside Johnny’s classic banter about their virtues, much to the delight of the overflowing crowd.
John Isley, Chris Anderson and Neal Pawley now comprise the famed Jukes horn section and more than deserved the high praise they received during “Walk Away Renee” and “I Don’t Want To Go Home.” John Conte’s bass playing skills, along with Glenn Alexander’s sprite guitar riffs added to the Asbury Jukes perfectly blended big band sound.
When the first notes of “The Fever” were played, Southside Johnny’s iconic presence took over, with the audience swaying to every note. The Jukes then launched into what was jokingly described as the “overture” from “Jukes the Musical!” Though intended to amuse, it’s a project idea that Jukes fans everywhere would flock to see, and one that might just end up on a Broadway stage, so stay tuned.
-Howard B. Leibowitz