Jim Abbott’s review of last week’s Lucero / Soul Rebels show at The Beacham.
“You can’t really follow the Soul Rebels,” Lucero lead singer Ben Nichols told the crowd in the opening moments of the band’s headlining set on Thursday at the Beacham.
Yeah, at the moment, it was hard to imagine how Lucero’s meat-and-potatoes mixture of rock, country and Memphis-style R&B could compete with the hourlong, high-energy, New Orleans street-party offered by the Soul Rebels.
Yet, somehow, the wildly diverse elements all came together to yield a generous, emotionally charged show with more than its share of high points.
Soul Rebels, a brass band that carries on and expands the tradition of such Big Easy legends at the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, specializes in hitching its brassy style to pop songs such as the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.”
That song and the boisterous cover of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” were powered by the explosive drums-and-tuba rhythm section that makes so much of the Soul Rebels material so infectiously irresistible.
In songs such as “504,” ”Turn It Up” and ”Night People,” the Rebels embraced hip-hop and demonstrated effortless showmanship with the band members’ occasional loose-limbed choreography.
(It was also cool to see the band introduced on stage by their manager, Adam Shipley, who used to book shows in the same room before moving to New Orleans many years ago.)
A tough act to follow, but Lucero tackled the challenge with a swaggering set that showcased the band’s deceptively simple style with easy self-assurance. It helped that the sound mix was precise enough to emphasize the mix of guitars and keyboards and keep the lead vocals comfortably on top of the instruments.
“On My Way Downtown,” “Nights Like These” a raucous “Kiss the Bottle” and other songs put an earthy exclamation point on a terrific night of music.