We all remember Soul Asylum. Receiving constant airplay on MTV in the ‘90’s, and having achieved four top 40 hits in the UK, many of their tunes have embedded themselves in our popular consciousness. I must admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of a band that I viewed at the time as being corporate, bandwagon jumpers but I’ve mellowed a lot over the past three decades so tonight’s show at The Old Woollen holds a special interest for me. This will be the first time I’ve been present at a Soul Asylum concert and my curiosity is piqued. So roll on the opening act.
Tonight's show has been moved from the Leeds Beckett venue to further out of the city in Farsley. While this may seem like a strange move, the venue is delightfully different. Yes, the loos are in a temporary cabin outside, but the small warehouse is well set up for a gig. The black tables and chairs scattered to the side of the dance floor are a little hard to see in the dark as you navigate to the front of the stage, but the lighting on stage makes up for it as you have a clear view almost everywhere.
Everclear, from Portland, Oregon are tonight’s support band. Indeed they are accompanying Soul Asylum on all their UK dates. As they kick off their set, it is clear from the audience’s anticipation and appreciation that many have come here tonight just to see these guys. Being largely ignorant of Everclear’s music, I am surprised at the audience’s reaction. It helps to focus my ears.
Art Alexakis, the singer/guitarist is quite a legend in his own lifetime. Having been influential in the cowpunk scene, done a fair bit of acting and of course, being the tour de force of Everclear just to scratch at his resume. However, I’m finding their performance lacklustre. It seems that Art no longer has the power in his vocal chords to do justice to the more raucous, energetic tunes. This is a phenomena that I’ve observed a lot with punk bands that had their heyday many decades ago. The music still has vitality but the singer’s gruff, scratchy attempts to match the vigour of the band leaves much to be desired. I hope I don’t offend any Everclear fans but I didn’t much enjoy their set. A good proportion of the audience did, however. And more power to them.
As Soul Asylum walk onto the stage, I feel the atmosphere change in the venue and an unfamiliar feeling comes over me. I do believe I’m a little bit star struck. Dave Pirner (lead vocalist/Rhythm guitar) exudes calmness and confidence. Ryan Smith (lead guitar) is beaming from ear to ear, as is the bass player and the drummer. The pit closes in, pleasantries are exchanged.
Earlier, Art Alexakis warned us about Dave Pirner’s terrible jokes and some people in the crowd are calling out to hear some but the band fires up with Got It Pretty Good and the room electrifies instantly. I was expecting soft rock but this is full on. The band is fast, powerful and oh so tight. Next the band launch into Somebody To Shove and the room (me included) goes wild. All the times I heard this band on MTV, I never once realised just how good their songs are. Fully formed with all the individual parts functioning in concert to produce really, really good music. I’m so glad to be here. Opening my eyes and perhaps eating my words at the same time.
Bittersweetheart is the third song and is just as catchy, just as complete as the last. It’s around this time Mr Pirner starts to share his terrible jokes with us, in-between songs. As bad as these jokes are, they are sweet and have us in stitches at the sheer audacity it must take to tell such crappy jokes to an audience at a rock show. I feel a connection to an audience full of strangers. The power of music, eh?
By the time the band gets to Black Gold, I have decided I’m a Soul Asylum fan. It’s the most fun I’ve had at a gig in quite a while and as surprised as I am, I’m totally glad for the experience. It seems I already know the choruses to most of the songs. The band is lively and expressive on stage, so friendly and gracious. It really is a wonderful atmosphere. I guess the evening’s crescendo approached with the Grammy award winning Runaway Train. A song that I’m sure will still be getting played in a thousand years as the lyrics and melody almost achieve a symbiotic perfection. All of a sudden it dawns on me how lucky I am to be seeing such an important band in such a homely environment.
The main set finishes with Just Like Anyone from the 1995 long player Let Your Dim Light Shine. A 3-song encore rounds out a truly remarkable show. I really think I learned something about myself tonight. Thank you Soul Asylum.
Got It Pretty Good
Somebody To Shove
Here We Go
By The Way
Little Too Clean
Made To Be Broken
Hopped Up Feelin’
Good For You
Never Really Been
Without A Trace
Veil Of Tears
Just Like Anyone
String Of Pearls
Looking At You
sorry, we currently have no gigs listed for this act.