Little Steven Van Zandt brought a bit of his Underground Garage radio program to the Hard Rock Rocksino on Friday via his outstanding band The Disciples Of Soul.
Hall of Famer Van Zandt, who recently reformed The Disciples Of Soul which has been defunct since 1987, released a great new album titled Soulfire this past spring. Since his “Boss” is currently doing his thing on Broadway, Little Steven decided to take this show on the road and brought fourteen outstanding musicians with him. His band consists of a five man horn section, three backing vocalists, an organist, a keyboardist, a drummer, a percussionist, a guitarist and a bassist.
Miami Steve kicked things off by paying tribute to Tom Petty as the band tore into “Even The Losers.” Three more songs were played before Van Zandt spoke to the Hard Rock crowd. He quipped “It’s been twenty-five years! I didn’t want to rush anything.” Actually, it has been thirty years to the day, since Little Steven and The Disciples Of Soul last played in Cleveland opening for U2 on October 6, 1987. Steven also mentioned that he was dedicating the show to Cleveland International Records founder, Steve Popovich.
The Disciples Of Soul have only released three records since their debut in 1982 including Men Without Women, Voice Of America and the newly released Soulfire. The 22 song set featured songs from all three albums. However, like his Sirius XM radio station, a variety of different music genres were played throughout the evening. Whether it be his own rockin’ originals like “Salvation” and “Forever” or a funky cover of Etta James “Blues Is My Business” or even the early ‘70s blacksploitation sounds of James Brown’s “Down and Out In New York City,” this band hit the mark every time.
Another impressive component to this band were the three background singers. These ladies had choreographed dance moves for every song and they even freestyled it from time to time. They were clearly having fun and it was difficult to take your eyes off of them.
Steven spoke about some of his early influences including the sounds of Doo Wop. He credited Alan Freed for “playing black records for white kids” and noted that Freed “is the reason the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland.” His song “My City Weeps Tonight” was a tribute to this era.
The two hour and twenty minute musical extravaganza came to a close with the South Side Johnny tune “I Don’t Want To Go Home” and his first solo hit “Out Of The Darkness.”
It was a great mix of musical genre’s expertly played by well seasoned musicians.