Paul Janeway rolled on the floor for nearly two minutes before emerging from his sequin cape to wipe the tears from his eyes. It was the end to a remarkably high-energy, high-emotion show from a band which recently lost its partnership with Columbia Records.
On Thursday, September 13, St. Paul & The Broken Bones headlined a concert at Aztec Theatre in support of their most recent album, Young Sick Camelia. They’ve performed in San Antonio before, playing The Rustic in February and at the Tobin Center the previous year. This concert, however, felt especially emotion-fueled. This energy could have been influenced by the band’s reaction to losing their distribution deal with Columbia and by Janeway, the frontman of the group, losing his grandfather at a key point in his creation of the album. His emotional connection to the new songs was most apparent as he cried on stage, but there were other moments nearly as moving, such as the few sections of the show where members of the band soloed. Janeway appeared to genuinely appreciate both the work of and the chance to perform alongside each of his bandmates.
The Birmingham-based band was supported by Black Pumas, an Austin psych-soul rock band, which fit well as a bridge between St. Paul and The Broken Bones’ earlier, retro-soul projects and Young Sick Camelia.
The show focused on the new album, but St. Paul and The Broken Bones also played selections from their previous albums; the old songs sounded more confident and carefree than their more recent works. Though their new pieces dove deep into introspective emotion, Janeway seemed more comfortable with the older material, elaborating the melodies with his signature falsetto and accompanying smirks, his cape sparkling as he danced around Aztec Theatre’s elaborate stage.
Though, on “Grass is Greener” Janeway sings “That old grass ain’t greener, I know baby, because I’ve been there,” the opposite may in fact be true for this band. They’ve faced more than their fair share of hardship over the past few years, but the concert Thursday night proved that for this group, the best may be yet to come.