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It might have been lacking dancefloor moments, but there was still plenty to enjoy when St Paul and the Broken Bones played in Melbourne

As frontman of St Paul and the Broken Bones, Paul Janeway’s energy is the stuff of legend, with many pointing to his earlier aspirations to become a preacher as the start of his journey of showmanship.
 
But despite all of his best efforts, there was a small piece of the puzzle missing at the group’s Melbourne gig, following their Bluesfest appearance in Byron Bay.
 
It could be the fact that it was 7pm, so the crowd was a little under-lubricated and in need of more warming up than your standard. Or it could be that exhaustion had set in after a pretty heavy touring schedule. Or it could be that their new album Sea of Noise is a more sedate offering about heartbreak, racial violence and political unrest. Janeway himself described it as a bleak record.
 
But whatever the reason, when Janeway pointed out that it was “halfway through the gig and time to dance your arse off,” fans found themselves internally begging for something to dance to. There were some upbeat tunes, but it was definitely a more ballad-laced offering.
 
St Paul’s sound goes from funk to soul to rock and back again. Janeway even kicked off proceedings with a James Brown-esque cape toss. And you could see why they’ve been described as ‘soul revival’ – some of the songs felt like they were straight outta Motown.
 
It was slightly disappointing that they didn’t play more of the covers they’ve been showcasing at gigs leading up to the Melbourne appearance, but you can’t have it all. Melbourne did, at least, get a cracking version of Van Morrison’s I’ve Been Working. It was one of the highlights of the set, along with I’m Torn Up, Call Me, Sanctify and two great instrumental jams.
 
Janeway’s voice didn’t disappoint in any way, his falsetto soared to higher and higher heights, with lots of Al Green moments, sometimes even with a more modern R&B feel. And the rest of the band was great, with lead and bass guitars, sax, trumpet, trombone, keys and drums.
 
Here’s hoping that St Paul has found their spiritual redemption in their latest album and their next one gets back to the serious business of getting down on the dancefloor.
 
By Isabelle Oderberg
 
Highlight: Janeway taking off his shoe, then his sock, then making a sock puppet.
Lowlight: Not being given enough dancing tunes.
Crowd Favourite: Call Me.