OAKLAND — For 90 minutes Wednesday at The Fox Theater in Oakland, the headlining act put the “saint” in St. Paul and the Broken Bones.
The Birmingham, Alabama, rock and soul octet delivered the full-custom gospel, playing beneath a cathedral stained glass window installation. Vocalist Paul Janeway — the eponymous St. Paul — was the preacher, his sermon delivered by his sonorous soul croon. He took the stage in robes, beneath that glass that featured slyly hidden six shooters facing each other as well as angels’ wings.
Throughout the night, Janeway was all fire and brimstone, strutting from one side of the stage to the other to work the crowd. He even mixed in a dab during “Call Me,” because why not? He was most entertaining on “Broken Bones and Pocket Change,” when he crawled atop a stack of speakers and then jumped back onto the stage, earning a standing ovation for both vocals and jumping.
“That thing is dusty as shit, man,” he told the crowd after his plunge.
The show ended with a showpiece on “Burning Rome” for the magnetic singer, with Janeway repeatedly slamming his palm against the crimson red, single-breasted suit jacket against his chest and stomping his foot, as if to coax the spirit out via his voice.
Wednesday’s gig featured every song from Sea of Noise, released earlier this month, the band’s second album. The songs bubble and simmer more than 2014’s debut LP Half the City, eager to show off Janeway’s abilities.
The new tracks gave him moments, like the high notes he belted during “Sanctify,” which concluded with Janeway falling to his knees in front of the drum riser and holding a palm in the high.
The band also trotted out a pair of covers. First came Radiohead’s “The National Anthem,” rendered quite well considering its moored bass riff and Charles Mingus-inspired horns seem like a far cry from the band’s wheelhouse. Later, in the night’s brashest and boldest number, St. Paul and the Broken Bones slipped into full revival for a reading of Van Morrison’s “I’ve Been Working,” with plenty of juicy material for its three-member horn section.
Janeway joked that the smattering of songs from Half the City constituted the “greatest hits” portion of the show, but if he and the band keep this up, they’ll be bringing new converts into the congregation.
Kicking off the night was Seratones, the Shreveport, Louisiana, southern rock quartet. Singer AJ Haynes was charismatic and joyous as she and the band worked well to fire up the crowd. The band’s sound pulls from multiple genres, like jazz and soul, and Haynes and Co. have received critical acclaim for debut album Get Gone, as well as comparisons to another southern band, the Alabama Shakes.
Crumbling Light Posts, Pt. 1
Flow With It (You Got Me Feeling Like)
Like a Mighty River
I’ll Be Your Woman
Tears in the Diamond
The National Anthem (Radiohead cover)
Crumbling Light Posts, Pt. 2
Broken Bones and Pocket Change
Midnight on the Earth
Half the City
Grass Is Greener
All I Ever Wonder
Is It Me
I’ve Been Working (Van Morrison cover)