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October 20, 2003

Threesome fuses influences in live stunner

The talented members of Soulive preserved their reputation as outstanding live performers Friday night at the House of Blues. The group┬ŚNeil Evans on bass keyboard and Hammond b-3, Alan Evans on the drums, and Eric Krasno on guitar┬Śwas joined on stage by alto saxophonist Sam Kininger, who is featured on Soulive's 2002 release, Next.

Soulive represents a mixture of musical backgrounds. Krasno graces many of the tunes with sweet jazz licks and creates a rhythmic platform with chords and wah-wah effects. Neil Evans secures bass lines with his left hand and performs solos with his right on the b-3, while his brother Alan maintains the soulful beat on the drums.

Despite Soulive's label as a jam band, the group appropriately returns to the main riffs of each song when jamming, making fluid yet syncopated rhythms that continually create a unique live sound. Given the band's rapid rise in popularity, I was somewhat surprised to find a less-than-energetic crowd.

Neil Evans's lively organ playing, combined with Krasno's passionate solos and Alan's solid groove held down by soon had the crowd on its feet. Throughout the rest of the set, the crowd was very responsive to each member's solo performances.

The highlight of the evening was hearing the tune "Jesus Children" performed live. The constant rhythmic shifts, well composed transitions, and overall vibe kept the audience guessing, while Kininger's sweet-sounding solos kept everyone wanting more. Unfortunately, the crowd never got it because Soulive was merely the opener for Me'Shell Ndegeocello. The two groups reversed roles for Saturday's performance.

Soulive proves to its audience that success is based on substance, a quality that cannot be fully appreciated until absorbed in a live performance.