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London, Shepherds Bush Empire
21st October 2011


In hindsight, tonight could have been billed as 'Phantom Of The Empire', as both bands were suffering from guitar amp failures, but that did not deter them from putting on a night of great music, pleasing to lovers of adult-orientated rock.

Opening act The Trews are one of those Canadian acts who enjoy Top 10 status back home, yet are awaiting the rest of the world to play catch up. Their music lies somewhere between Nickelback and Del Amitri and the band are a lot rockier live than on their latest album, 'Hope & Ruin', where the title track was one of the highlights of their show tonight. The Trews impressed many here at the Empire, so don't be too surprised to see the band headlining at this very venue in the next couple of years.

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Hailing from the same area as the Boss, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes have often lived in the shadow of Bruce Springsteen who, along with Steve Van Zandt, have made a major contribution to the career of the Jukes, penning some of their best known numbers. It's no secret that Jon Bon Jovi is a major fan and highly influenced by the uplifting, swinging good sounds of these fellow New Jersey rockers. So much so, in fact, that Jon has borrowed guitarist Bobby Bandeira to play on his 'Destination Somewhere' solo album and, more recently, in his touring band; as has keyboardist Jeff Kazee, who stood in for David Bryan one night last year at the O2 Arena when Bryan was away collecting an award.


Fans of Southside Johnny and the boys are a dedicated lot who will happily travel the length of the country every night to see them in action, plus there are many who have travelled from over the pond to see their homeboy in action. The main reason why these fans will come night after night is that Southside Johnny & The Jukes are one of those rare acts who play an entirely different set every night, making sure their fans get a new experience on every occasion.

At one point, Johnny was taking donations for requests, for which he received 2GBP from one fan to perform 'Take It Inside'. 'All The Way Home' made a rare return and I did enjoy the lounge covers of 'Don't Be Cruel' and '24 Hours From Tulsa'.

Despite guitarist Glenn Alexander having gremlins in his amp, it didn't spoil the show as he had a well-polished brass section behind him to back him up. In fact, they sounded like one of those feelgood bands you would find on the 'Blues Brothers' soundtrack.

Johnny himself was in a playful mood, and tonight looked like he had accidentally walked onstage after popping to the local newsagents in Uxbridge Road for some fags, as he was looking casual and wearing a Greece football shirt, for which he was later jeered at when he commented on it. (Doesn't he know Greece has more football honours than England has in the last forty years?!)

This was my first live experience of Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, and the band were certainly full of energy and played a mammoth set featuring tracks from a catalogue of albums from the last thirty-five years. Highlights for me included 'Talk To Me' and the Springsteen-penned 'The Fever'.

In the pub next door after the show, many fans were swapping stories of the night and discussing the setlist before all saying "see you tomorrow in Southampton". For once, I kept quiet as i felt like the new boy in town, even though I only live up the road across from Shepherds Bush Green.

In the words of Arnie, "I'll be back".


The Trews:

The World I Know
Not Ready To Go
So She's Leaving
Love Is The Real Thing
Hope & Ruin
Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me
Hold Me In Your Arms

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes:

Shake 'Em Down
Don't Be Cruel
Passion Street
Take It Inside
Sweeter Than Honey
Until The Good Is Gone
Talk To Me
Lead On Me
Help Me
I Played The Fool
24 Hours From Tulsa
This Time Baby's Gone For Good
Gin Soaked Boy
Woke Up In The Morning
Cadillac Jack
All The Way Home
This Time It's For Real
One More Night To Rock
Walk Away Renee
The Fever
Trapped Again
Encores: Harder Than It Looks
Without Love
I Don't Want To Go Home
Hearts Of Stone



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