"November 28, 2007"

Soulsavers - November 28, 2007

North Star Bar
Philadelphia, PA, USA

With the release of Soulsavers' "It's Not How Far You Fall, It's The Way You Land," the band have been hyped as a British remix slash electronica duo. And while that may have been true in the past, one look at the band's current day stage setup will quickly reveal that that is no longer the case. With only a few United States dates scheduled for 2007 (and so far none for '08), Soulsavers featuring Mark Lanegan took to the stage at Philadelphia's North Star Bar for a memorable and highly anticipated evening.

Or rather, took to the cramped stage. The small platform seemed barely large enough to hold the eight musicians and all of their equipment. Each of the three guitar players had an ample selection of pedals and other effects spread out at their feet, with guitarist Rich Machin getting programming duties to boot. It was fascinating watching guitarist (and noted rock photographer) Steve Gullick who was constantly hunched over his guitar, experimenting with the enthusiasm of, as he put it, a scientist. But while the band did use their backing electronic tracks, it was as more of an outline to the music. The band colored in all the details themselves with the live performance.

The always impressive Lanegan provided commanding vocals while keeping strictly to his eyes clamped shut, microphone stand clutching stance and breaking rank only to glare at the engineer at the soundboard when feedback occurred repeatedly throughout one song. Saving the smooth and swelling sounds of "Revival" for an encore, Soulsavers hit a number of tracks not found on "It's Not How Far..." And the band still managed to save the closing number ("Midnight Special") for the background singers, Carmen Short and Wendi Rose, who nearly stole the whole show with their rendition of the song.

Sounding generally rehearsed and musically tight, it seemed that it was their performance that was still a little awkward as they sped through the set list, avoided any banter and looked a bit confused when half the band walked off stage for what would become the lead up to the evening's encore. Notably absent was the show's opening act which, added to the fact that the band's set ended up being just over an hour long, meant you could still make it into work the next morning without being too tired. Soulsavers played it by the book with their performance while still keeping things interesting with some of their song choices.