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Concert Reviews:
Southside Johnny brings Jersey flavor to the Magic Bag

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Monday, March 5, 2012

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Ferndale felt a little bit like the Jersey shore on Sunday (March 4), when Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes blew into town for a show at the Magic Bag that was -- to quote another of Detroit's East Coast favorites (the J. Geils Band) -- nothin' but a houseparty.

Bringing his band to the Motor City (at least on this side of the river) for the first time in nearly two decades, Southside Johnny Lyon was in a playful mood throughout the two-plus hour set, as verbally loose as the eight-piece band was musically tight. He noted that "we're going home (to New Jersey) after this," so he was happy to good-naturedly chide his fans -- particularly the men, of which he felt there were too many -- or shake down additional tips for one of the Magic Bag's waitresses from the crowd in front of the stage.

He also helped enhance the birthday of one of his female fans, making sure she shared a slow dance with her boyfriend -- making sure that they did it the right way.

The real treat, however, was the Jukes' barrage of brassy, rockin' R&B, a timeless repertoire that's as potent now as it was in the group's 70s heyday, when it was riding in Bruce Springsteen's jet stream and was, in some fans' minds, just as good if not better. Certainly some of those who turned up at the Magic Bag on Sunday were in warm-up mode for Springsteen's upcoming tour (and its April 12 stop at the Palace of Auburn Hills), and Lyon certainly didn't hide from the association, playing Springsteen-written (or co-written) Jukes favorites such as "Talk to Me," "The Fever" and "Trapped Again" and also showing off a bit of Jersey troubadour storytelling during a lengthy rendition of The Boss' "All the Way Home."

Springsteen was hardly the only source Lyon and company tapped during the blowout, however. The Jukes also covered the Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee," the Flirtations' "Nothing But a Heartache," the Rolling Stones' "Happy" and Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul's "Until the Good Is Gone" and although Lyon -- sporting a Detroit T-shirt -- voiced some concern that he was not playing to a Monkees he crowd, the reception for a two-song tribute to the late Davy Jones -- "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" and "Daydream Believer" -- proved otherwise.

It was a good night for a room full of fans who clearly felt deprived of the Jukes' presence for far too long. Here's hoping we don't have to wait quite as long for the next show.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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