Riviera Theatre and Performing Arts Center
North Tonawanda, NY
Thursday September 21, 2023
Review/Photos: Joseph Suto
It has been ten long excruciating years for many fans since Dave Pirner and Soul Asylum last graced a Buffalo area stage. Although the Riv was half full, the fans who did show up let the band know how they felt by really being quite spirited during the final songs of the night. This was easily the most anticipated Soul Asylum show due to how long they had last been in town.
Pirner led the band through a set that featured many of their hits as well as a few lesser known but solid tunes. Joining Pirner on stage were guitarist Ryan Smith and bassist Jeremy Tappero. The biggest surprise of the night was the return of drummer Sterling Campbell. Campbell of course played in Soul Asylum from 94-98. He has also played with many acts over the years including being David Bowie’s prominent drummer up until his last tour. Nothing against any other drummers Pirner has employed over the years but having Campbell behind the kit really seemed to bring out the best in the songs. With Campbell back the band played five songs off Let Your Dim Light Shine, an album he played on.
Kicking the set off with “Shut Down” which immediately bled into the in-your-face power of “Somebody To Shove”, which was the first of seven songs from the band’s biggest album Grave Dancers Union on this night. From there the band tore into “Misery” the band’s second biggest hit which peaked at #20 on the charts. Pirner then mixed in a bunch of the lesser known but far from obscure. Some of those that stood out were “String Of Pears” and “I Will Still Be Laughing”.
Pirner tried his hand at being a comedian a few times between songs. I think he needs to stick to writing more great music. As the night wound down we finally arrived at the pinnacle portion of the set. The two standouts from Grave Dancers Union “Black Gold” and Top-5 smash “Runaway Train” were neatly tucked near the end of the set. The band closed with gem “Just Like Anyone” before heading out for the lone encore of “April fool”.
All in all a fairly impressive set. Personally I would have liked to have heard more from The Silver Lining which I feel is a very underrated record. Still shaking my head over the glaring omission of “Without A Trace”, which is the one song I truly expected to be played. All things said it was just one of those shows that you were glad to be attending after not having seen the band in so long. Hopefully we won’t have to wait so long for the next visit.
Opening the show was Living Colour vocalist Corey Glover. Glover played a 45-minute set that featured some solo material from his 1998 album Hymns. He did manage to slip in “Love Rears It’s Ugly Head” as he told the audience he was contracted to play one Living Colour song. His soulful voice fit in perfectly with the guitar playing of Stephen DeAcutis.
Somebody to Shove
String of Pearls
By the Way
Eyes of a Child
I Will Still Be Laughing
Hopped Up Feelin’
Home Sweet Home
If I Told You
Closer to the Stars
Just Like Anyone