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Soulive Presents the Beatles

by Jeff Nania on November 3, 2011

PICOTTE RECITAL HALL, COLLEGE OF SAINT ROSE, OCT. 30

Beatles tunes walk on their own. But there is something about the way they walk when Soulive plays them. The soul-jazz trio have been touring with these particular arrangements of Beatles tunes since the release of their most recent album Rubber Soulive in 2010. It is interesting that the tunes seem to speak just as clearly without words as they do with them. The emotions and sentiments of the originals are still there, and are as true today as they were when they were written.

The show started a bit late due to weather, and the silence in the theater as people waited for the group to come on was deafening. The Massry Center’s sit-down environment was “just about the exact opposite of last night,” according to drummer Alan Evans. “People were in costumes, and we had a drunk girl come up on stage and fall off a drum riser . . . which you are welcome to do if you like.” The Massry Center was a unique environment for a Soulive show because the music is so inherently danceable and this is not a hall made for dancing—this is a hall made for listening. The group didn’t seem to mind, though. As soon as the trio finished the melody of “Come Together,” Neal Evans walked away from the keys and guitarist Eric Krasno’s notes seemed to fly up into the air, round and clear on their own.

“Tomorrow Never Knows” was Neal’s turn to shine, as his Hammond organ sang the melody and you could practically hear the words. This song came in the middle of another showstopper, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” which sandwiched the other melody and sent chills all across my body. As if he even needed to mention it, Alan said, “We’re gonna do another Beatles tune that Eric recorded on his solo album. It’s called ‘Get Back.’” Neal started the 1234-1234 organ groove and Krasno’s guitar sang the melody. During the choruses, the crowd did a call-and-response with Krasno, which was remarkable given that there was no vocalist on stage.

The night may have been billed as “Soulive Presents the Beatles,” but the highlight of the evening seemed to come in the last few minutes of the encore when the performers were grooving hard on their own classic “Tuesday Night’s Squad.” It seemed like they finally got the majority of the crowd off their asses and on their feet, but by then it was over quicker than it had started.