By Sorena Dadgar
March 10, 2022 (updated)
It’s been five years since St. Paul and the Broken Bones’ last performance at The Ritz, and Sunday’s show marked their third stop on The Alien Coast tour. The Alien Coast, the fourth studio album from the Alabama band released in January, features the band’s gospel-based vocals with shoegaze and ethereal accents, a departure from the funk-heavy sounds of Young Sick Camellia (2018). St. Paul and The Broken Bones were joined by Thee Sacred Souls, and the pair kept fans grooving all night.
Thee Sacred Souls’ lead singer Josh Lane worked the entire stage area, singing from atop the speakers on both sides of the stage and, at one point, from the pit. Lane was joined onstage by backup singer Jensine Benitez, as well as founding members Sal Samano and Alex Garcia playing the bass and drums, respectively. The band’s Chicano roots were celebrated as Lane left the stage for Benitez to perform “Ilusion De Amor” as the solo vocalist.
Lane returned to the stage to perform their first single, 2020’s “Can I Call You Rose?” They continued with “Weak for Your Love,” which relies on soft drum sequences and lively vocals akin to their Daptone Records labelmates Lee Fields and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings. Thee Sacred Souls mirrored their old school influences in more ways than one, opting to release their music on vinyl before uploading to streaming platforms, which left the band with a smaller-than-normal discography to play through. With a concise mix of soft, romantic songs and boastful ballads, Thee Sacred Souls set the mood for the night’s main event.
As the house music faded, St. Paul’s band members took the stage. Nearly a minute of intro music played before frontman Paul Janeway calmly joined the band. Dressed in black jeans, Jordan 4s, and a black bomber jacket emblazoned with the cover art from the single release of “Minotaur,” the ensemble was a big contrast from his usual patterned suits and sequined robes.
Easing into the set with “3000 AD Mass,” the first track off The Alien Coast, the group followed up with more up-tempo songs like “The Last Dance” and Young Sick Camellia’s “GotItBad,” whose strong bassline and heavy disco influence created an atmosphere to move and groove. With hips swaying and toes tapping, Janeway continued the lively performance, taking any pause in vocals to show off his dynamic dance moves.
The last time St. Paul & the Broken Bones performed at The Ritz, Janeway’s performance was highlighted by singing “Broken Bones and Pocket Change” atop a 10-foot speaker tower before jumping onto the stage and finishing the song laying on the ground. The anticipation for another stunt was fulfilled as “Sanctify” started playing. The Sea of Noise tune, characterized by asynchronous surges of horn and guitar, allows Janeway’s voice to join in waves. After a minute, Janeway left the stage and started making his way up and around the mezzanine. He then indulged the crowd by climbing onto the railing to perform for the few people beside him and the rest of the audience below, as if he was an actual saint addressing the masses. The band continued the undulating rhythms, jamming long enough for Janeway to dismount and make his way back to the stage.
St. Paul’s set was heavy with their latest album, The Alien Coast, playing four of the 11 songs off the album, as well as two unreleased songs written during the same session. The band’s debut album, Half The City, wasn’t represented until “Grass Is Greener,” the second-to-last song in the set. They ended with the first single off Young Sick Camellia, “Apollo,” which prompted a natural call-and-response between Janeway and the crowd. “Apollo” ended, the stage lights dimmed and the band left the stage, leaving a murmuring audience wanting just a few more songs.
One by one, members of the band returned to cheers from an eager audience. The encore was an exclusive celebration of Half The City, with “Like A Mighty River” kicking off the extra time. Feet were stomping hard and the crowd never fell below a soft roar. The only appropriate ending to the night was to finish with “Call Me,” the song that propelled St. Paul & The Broken Bones into fame in 2014. They didn’t disappoint. Everyone joined in singing the powerful anthem, shouting the phone number “6-11, 3-3-6-9” every time the chorus came around. The 75-minute performance ended with an enormous applause and countless cheers as Janeway thanked Raleigh and left the stage.
“3000 AD Mass”
“The Last Dance”
“Walk Monster” (Unreleased Song)
“Beatus” (Unreleased Song)
“Hunter And His Hounds”
“Flow With It (You Got Me Feeling Like)”
“Grass is Greener”
“Like A Mighty River”