On the sixth night, we had confusion. Opener Curtis Harding was suddenly unavailable at the last minute, with the lone announcement of “Showtime will be changed to 8:45, full refunds will be available.” Despite the nice gesture, I don’t believe anyone was running to get their money back, with the New Orleans powerhouse combo of Anders Osbone and George Porter Jr. headlining the event.
Soulive, consisting of Eric Krasno (guitar), Alan Evans (drums), and Neal Evans (keys) took the stage at the adjusted set time to a half full Brooklyn Bowl as it appears not everyone got the memo. The opening act has a large responsibility and its not just to kill time until the headliner goes on. They are intended to insert a certain amount of energy in the crowd, and on this night when Soulive took the stage both audience and band seemed to be missing that energy. It felt as if the trio was going through the motions on the original “Dig” as well as the nightly Beatles cover we’ve come to expect “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
The Shady Horns then joined on stage and while the hope seemed to be they would inject a little energy into the building, they ran their way through two more Soulive originals “Fire Eater” and “The Swamp” without too much fanfare. On the last Soulive original tune of the night “Upshot” the band finally drew the crowds undivided attention with horn filled funk. The energy inside finally came to a peak as “The Captain of Bowlive” as dubbed by band leader Krasno, George Porter Jr.(bass, The Meters), took the stage and Neil Evans (keyboard) was finally able to give his left hand a break from that clavinet. When Porter Jr. is on stage his presence usurps Krasno from his traditional band leader roll and works each musician like he is conducting an orchestra. Porter Jr. got the best out of each musician on stage for the three Meters songs to close the set “Pungee,” “Keep On Marching,” and “He Bite Me (The Dragon).”
This show could easily be described as a tale of two sets. Set two began with Soulive, The Shady Horns, and the second guest of the evening Anders Osborne (guitar). Anders Osborne led us through two of his original tunes “On The Road To Charlie Parker” and “Pleasin You” before The Shady Horns left the stage for a rendition of “Back Together” from Osborne’s newest project NMO All-Stars. With Porter Jr. back on stage joining Anders Osborne we were treated to two living New Orleans legend doing their own funky takes on some classic tunes. First up was the JJ Cale penned “After Midnight,” and for the first time tonight the building was shaking. What came next will one day appear on a Best of Bowlive album. Kicked off with The Shady Horns back on stage and joined by Maurice “Mo Betta” Brown (trumpet, TTB) CSNY’s Ohio led the way with a phenomenal trumpet solo by Brown with Osborne, Krasno, and Porter Jr. on vocals. A seamless segue in a mind melting mashup of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” > Neil Young’s “Down By The River” > “Breathe” had everyone mesmorized. This mashup was highlighted by Victor Cornette’s mastery of the lighting rigs at Brooklyn Bowl to give you the full experience. The Grateful Dead’s “Bertha” followed and didn’t disappoint as Neal took it to another level on the organ as Porter Jr. egged him on with deep rhythmic basslines. To round out this phenomenal set, Questlove (drums, The Roots) commandeered the drum kit from Alan to join in on another The Meter’s original “Africa,” this was the most talent that had been on stage at one time during the Bowlive run and the crowd responded appropriately. For the night six encore Soulive and The Shady Horns were joined on stage by Brown and Porter Jr. for one more The Meters tune “Ain’t No Use” starting out with Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” being teased into the intro. George Porter Jr. returns tomorrow night to end his two night run with Soulive.
Video by Marc Millman