I just walked through the door after a long day in NYC that culminated with a Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes concert at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill.
I’ve seen my fair-share of live musical performances from all manner of genres, and this was by far the most fun that I have ever had at a concert.
Let’s take it from the top.
The band was on fire from the first song. Southside Johnny is an incredibly engaging frontman. He changes things up on the spot, alters tempo, lyrics, and regularly brings other great musicians on stage from the audience. This time he brought up harp (harmonica) players Dennis Gruenling to play on a few songs.
Gruenling was a very expressive harp player. He kept his solo’s interesting and never overstayed his welcome. I liked him a lot. (I also hassled him for his business card after the performance, so I will have to look further into what he is up to. Expect more on this guy)
The rest of the performance was what I expected. The band was powerful and Southside Johnny’s unique stage presence brought the act to life.
I should also mention that B.B. King Blues Club & Grill is a superb venue. It is small and intimate with great acoustics. I recommend seeing a show there if you have the chance.
This is the second time I’ve seen Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes live at BB King’s. I saw them a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, but Johnny was sick during that performance and was not quite as energetic as he was this time.
One of the great strengths of Southside Johnny shows is the audience. He used to have a very large following, especially in the NY/NJ area, but over the years he has fallen into obscurity. The fans that show up to his shows are real fans. His love for his fans rings just as clear as our love for him. He puts no barriers between himself and the audience during the performance. I was standing only a few feet away and I saw a couple of people pass him cocktail napkins with song requests on them.
This was a killer performance straight through the set, but as great as it was, the encore was even better.
Enter Steven Van Zandt (Little Steven) of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Little Steven was a founding member of the Asbury Jukes back in the mid 70s.
I honestly can’t remember the set-list but it took them a couple songs for Little Steven to sync up with the band, but once they did it was a ton of fun.
A lot of the specifics are blurry to me… No I didn’t drink, I was just completely enthralled with the show and didn’t take any notes (mental or physical). If you know what the set list was, I would appreciate you posting it.