August 25, 2011 performance reviewed by Philip McTigue
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes are legends in the rock and roll scene. For over thirty years they have been delighting audiences and recording music in their rhythm and blues horn driven style. These musical giants of the Jersey Shore influenced musicians from Bruce Springsteen to Bon Jovi and are still going strong today.
They have created over thirty albums, several EP’s, and a box set. They have performed thousands of concerts all over the globe. They possess a dedicated fan base and the band’s newest release, “Pills and Ammo,” is full of new material that is already getting rave reviews from fans.
The band opened with an older tune called “I Give You My Heart,” and right out of the box you knew you were in for a good night. Southside’s version of the golden oldie “Walk Away Rene” was outstanding with six of his musicians contributing background vocals. He led a rollicking version of Keith Richard’s “Happy,” shaking castanets like a man who was having a ton of fun.
Southside Johnny Lyon is 60; age clearly is not slowing him down. He is a whirlwind of rock ‘n roll, rhythm ‘n blues and soul inspiration, singing as if a man possessed with the spirit of Motown meets Jersey. His band consists of Jeff Kazee, keys; John Conte, bass; Tom Seguso, drums; Glenn Alexander, guitars; Billy Walton, guitars; Eddie Manion, part of Conan O’Brien’s house band and killer sax sideman; Chris Anderson, trumpet; Mark Pender, trumpet; and Neal Pawley, trombone. This high-energy eight piece band was tight and you got the feeling they could handle anything Southside threw at them.
He vamped a version of “Money That’s all I Want” and also did an impromptu version of “Lean on Me.” The band didn’t skip a beat. A classic version of the Springsteen song “Fever” closed out the regular set. The band was feeding off the energy of Southside who was feeding off the energy of the audience. It was the perfect storm for a rock ‘n roll show.
After two hours and two encores that had the crowd very satisfied, Southside and company said farewell, the house lights came up and you could tell the band left it all on stage, which left fans beaming ear to ear as they exited.
We patronized a nearby restaurant before the show; it was packed and had a good pre-concert vibe to it. It was nice to see Pittsfield so alive and vibrant. Coming from South County, we were looking forward to seeing the renovated Colonial Theatre. It did not disappoint. It’s a beautiful venue.