On a night so hot that Stevie Van Zandt might easily have thought he was back playing in New Jersey rather than Manchester, the man who has been Bruce Springsteen’s second in command on and off since 1966 brought his spectacular show to the Academy.
The tour which is in support of Van Zandt’s first new album in 18 years, Soulfire, is visiting Manchester as the only UK date and despite the heat, the venue is pretty packed.
Soulfire is predominantly a collection of songs that Van Zandt has written for other artists over the years and covers most of the soul/rock genre, as Southside Johnny And The Asbury Dukes and Gary US Bonds can testify.
The show starts with Van Zandt and his 14 piece band rocking through the album’s title track Soulfire which is pure sixties soul, helped along by the brass section and backing singers.
Next up is Southside Johnny’s Coming Back, another brass driven track, and its another Southside track, Love On The Wrong Side Of Town which gets the audience dancing.
Van Zandt’s voice can be pretty close to Springsteen’s and a lot the songs all have a “Bruce” feel about them but that said, they are are great get up and dance songs which is exactly what the crowd want.
There’s a slight change of style with a funky cover of James Brown’s Down And Out In New York City followed by Van Zandt’s own Princess Of Little Italy.
Like Springsteen, Van Zandt clearly believes in giving value for money and this is a two hour plus show with no support with twenty songs covered and in the heat of the Academy that was some going.
By the time the encore Out Of The Darkness had finished a lot of the crowd were on their knees, yet at 67 Van Zandt was still prowling around the stage(he’s had plenty of practice though) ready for more.
Tonight was a great rock and roll/soul review type of show with a rock and roll legend who despite sometimes living in the shadow of The Boss proved he can cut it on his own, oh and he can act a bit as well!!