Thursday, June 30, 2016

Soul Asylum at Irving Plaza

Dave Pirner
Alternative rock band Soul Asylum formed as Loud Fast Rules in 1981 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As Soul Asylum, the band recorded five albums that met with little commercial success. In 1992, Soul Asylum released Grave Dancers Union, featuring their Grammy Award–winning single "Runaway Train," and the album went triple-platinum. Soul Asylum also scored platinum with the album Let Your Dim Light Shine three years later, but never again achieved the success of 1992. The group went on hiatus in 1998; sole remaining original member Dave Pirner reassembled the band in 2004. Soul Asylum presently consists of vocalist/guitarist Dave Pirner, guitarist Ryan Murphy, bassist Winston Roye and drummer Michael Bland. Soul Asylum's 11th and most recent album, Change of Fortune, was released on March 18, 2016.

Opening for the English Beat tonight at Irving Plaza, Soul Asylum was one of the few 1990s bands that still sounded relevant. The set was not designed to be a full retrospective; no songs were played from Soul Asylum's first four albums. Half of the set was born from the band's platinum period, with a sprinkling of later songs and four songs from the current album. Soul Asylum spaced its better known hits about four songs apart, beginning with the opening "Somebody to Shove," then spiking the set with searing versions of "Misery", "Black Gold" and "Runaway Train." Sometimes the choruses leaned a bit towards cutesy pop, but the band never forgot that it was primarily a rocking guitar band. The alternative rock era may have winded down, but Soul Asylum has not yet relinquished the sonic attack.

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