Review: Saints and soul singers at Meijer Garden

Paul Janeway, lead singer of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, put on a show at Meijer Gardens. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

By K.D. Norris


60-second Review 

St. Paul and the Broken Bones, with Durand Jones & the Indications opening, June 9, at Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, Mi. 



Having only briefly touched on the music of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, via the song “Call Me” while cruising through my SiriusXM spectrum, I had little knowledge and less expectations when vocalist Paul Janeway and his band hit the stage.


What I got was a tight, often spectacular, set of modern soul — new soul? — during a 19-song, 1-hour and 45-minute set cut a little short, Janeway pointed out, by the Garden’s usual concert curfew.


The band may only have two albums to choose its set from, but the Broken Bones seemed like they had plenty of great songs to offer up: my favorites were “Waves” and “Sanctify”, both off their most recent release, Sea of Noise, while “Call Me” is from their 2014 release Half the City. But the attractiveness of songs such as “Is it Me?”, “Tears in the Diamond” and the encore-closing “Burning Rome” cannot be denied.


To be perfectly honest, however, it is Janeway that makes the Broken Bones unique and may make them a really big band. With all due respects to stellar guitarist Browan Lollar and keyboardist Al Gamble, and the rest of the high-energy band, the night was all about Janeway.


Paul Janeway, of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, waded into the audience at one point the show. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

He pranced around the stage like the love-child of Elton John and Tina Turner. He dove in the audience with the longest mic cord I’ve ever seen — and nobody got strangled. With his deep south accent giving it color, his voice is as soft and soulful, or as rip-it-up soulful, as needed.


After the concert, I can’t wait to see what the band’s third album bring us.


The soulfulness of the night was set up perfectly with Durand Jones & the Indications’ 9-song set, with “Make a Change” being my favorite but maybe the best part of the set being watching Jones channelling James Brown.


May I have more, please? 


Short and sweet here: How did the band get their name?


In a 2014 interview with the University of North Carolina Charlotte News, Janeway was asked.


“The ‘St. Paul’ part is kind of a joke on me, I don’t drink or smoke,” he answered. “The ‘Broken Bones’ is a lyric from probably the first song me and Jess (Jess Phillips, bassist with the band) wrote. ‘…broken bones and pocket change is all she left me with.’ So all she left me with was no money and this band.”


Know nothing about the break-up he’s talking about, but she got the short end of that split.