Vicar Street, Dublin
Thursday 22nd June 2017

Surprisingly, the Vicar Street venue was still selling tickets at the door as Dublin welcomed the return of Little Steven. It was his first show in the city as a solo artist for over 25 years. And what a return!

Backed by a group of no less than 14 extremely talented musicians, Steven Van Zandt lead us through a veritable guide to modern music. First and foremost a rock show without a doubt but with a little of everything thrown in; soul, reggae, funk, ballads, latin and even doo-wop all had an outing as a Phil Spector-like wall of sound caressed and cajoled our ears. The band seamlessly switched from one code to the next in an intoxicating evening of music and emotion.

Ostensibly touring to promote his new album ‘Soulfire’, he draws on a back catalogue of songs written with and without Springsteen, for Southside Johnny, Gary US Bonds, and Darlene Love, as well as his five other solo records.

Opening with the tittle track of the new album, and dressed in a full-length Leather coat and his trademark bandana, Little Steven swaggers on to the stage and holds court for over two hours.

The band, I repeat all fourteen of them, are a tight unit but all given a chance to shine in their own right. Etta James’s ‘Blues Is My Business’ allows each member of the five piece brass section to shine along with a searing guitar solo from the man himself.

On a number of occasions, the “Divas of Soul”, as his female backing group are referred to, come close to stealing the show. Tight harmonies are accompanied by hugely energetic dance routines. Jessie Wagner, in particular, is striking with huge hair that seemed to have an identity of its own.

It’s hard to pick any particular highlights, such was the consistently high calibre of the show, but ‘Love On The Wrong Side Of Town’, ‘Standing In The Line Of Fire’ and the reggae triple whammy of ‘Solidarity’, ‘Leonard Peltier’ – based on the plight of a Native American political prisoner – and ‘I Am A Patriot’, were rapturously received by the crowd.

His easygoing chat with the crowd and quips further endear him to the crowd if that was possible.

Anyone can have a hit but you try having a career for 40 years and no hits!

With an encore of ‘Out Of The Darkness’, and a final curtain call from the huge cast of players, we checked our watches and wondered how had two hours sped by so fast.

This was joyous, life-affirming music. Little Steven came with his Disciples of Soul and left with many true believers in his wake. He preached to those there as witnesses to a fabulous night of music and a display of the redemptive power of soul. A night to remember. Bada Bing, Bada Boom!