Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul — Holiday Bowl A Go-Go!
Steven Van Zandt and his Disciples of Soul staged the First Annual Holiday Bowl A Go-Go! at the Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg to a packed house, moving through a two- hour-plus, 25-song show with no rough edges. There was extra excitement, as this was the first of two homecoming concerts, after touring Europe and Scandinavia in November and this special Brooklyn performance was filmed for a planned live DVD release.
The night opened with “Even The Losers,” Van Zandt’s tribute to Tom Petty, and featured all 12 songs from the group’s Soulfire album, as well as “Groovin Is Easy,” an unreleased track. “Down and Out in New York City ” brought a few extra cheers from the crowd, as did “Love on the Wrong Side of Town” and “Ride the Night Away” and “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” which are staples on Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes set lists.
Van Zandt’s masterful production skills were on full display, as were the considerable musical talents of the Disciples of Soul, which included the likes of sax masters Eddie Manion and Stan Harrison, legendary pianist Lowell Levinger of Youngbloods fame, as well as back up singers Jacquita (Jackie) Perkins, Sara Devine and Tania Jones, all under the musical direction of Brooklyn’s own Marc Ribler.
In his introduction to “The City Weeps Tonight,” a tribute to the doo-wop days of pop music, Steve Van Zandt spoke of the racial separation, stating that “back then, we had black radio and white radio” and “it would take the courage of the white DJs, like Alan Freed, to play black music for white kids.” He then said that, “When the white kids and black kids got together, the whole world changed and it created an industry that lasts to this day.” Van Zandt went on to say how it was “an innocent time and I miss that kind of innocence…and I do miss that kind of harmonizing with each other …and we could use a little bit more of that in our society at large these days.”
Little Steven also dipped into his past, bringing out new versions of “Salvation” (from 1999’s Born Again Savage album), “Princess of Little Italy,” “Forever” (from 1982’s Men Without Women album) and “Leonard Peltier” (from 1989’s Revolution album). The rousing encore featured a spirited cover of the Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight),” “I Don’t Want To Go Home” and “Out Of the Darkness,” which closed an evening that will be etched in the musical consciousness of those in attendance.