red lights


Reviving the spirit of Louisiana
without dwelling on disaster

Neville Brothers
Raue Center for the Performing Arts
Crystal Lake, IL
Mar. 31, 2006
Neville Brothers Neville Brothers

Story and Photos By Andy Argyrakis

The Neville Brothers are a New Orleans institution, weaved into the very fabric of the city's culture and responsible for influencing a slew of that town's finest musicians (along with throngs across the country). Beyond that treasured land, the troupe has also reached the international masses with a sting of commercial streaks and additional awareness from Aaron Neville's solo career. But that singer, along with his siblings Art, Cyril and Charles remain as one unit, especially after all everyone's endeared as of late- from the impact of Hurricane Katrina on their families, their town and even some members' houses and health.

Though the group's marathon tour behind the late 2004 release Walkin' in the Shadow of Life (Neville Nation/Back Porch/EMI) took a slight snag in that dramatic aftermath, the spirit of kinship and artistry has kept the foursome alive and thriving on the road. Chicago area crowds couldn'tNeville Brothers seem to get enough of the Brothers, leading to three separate shows that promised a similar broth of soul, pop, funk, blues and Cajun sounds. In the first of the concert trio, the group didn't disappoint, using those genres as re-building blocks to their careers (and lives in general) simultaneously offering inspiration to all those downtrodden regardless of the reason. Rather than dwelling on the destruction, the show was planted in the positive, recalling the band's rich catalogue and a handful of covers that fit well within the mix.

In terms of the golden nuggets, cuts such as "Saturday Night Fish Fry" and "Fever" rippled with scintillating soul, stunning harmonies and a funk fusion unlike any other. Extended jams like "Hey Pocky Way" and "Yellow Moon" stirred up such a fiesta that the intimate suburban venue felt like crammed Bourbon Street on a debauchery drenched Fat Tuesday. When it came to the Brothers' latest material, it was met with equal verve, plus evolution into the present to focus on more aggressive undercurrents. "Can't Stop the Funk" and "Carry the Torch" were especially appealing considering their messages of hope with piping hot rhythms, striking up stronger spices than even the most devilish red beans and rice.

Aaron's solo offering "Don't Know Much" (originally made famous with Linda Ronstadt) uncovered the softer side of the group, as did that singer's interpretation of the spiritual standard 'Amazing Grace,' which was truly a glimpse of heaven on earth. A finale combo of Bob Marley's "One Love" and Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" also transcended all boundaries, again carried by Aaron's impeccable range and positioned with unparallel poignancy. And getting through those latter two selections without choking back the tears was in itself is a true victory that signaled the group's resilience while simultaneously keeping their temporarily fallen city's light burning bright.

Two additional area Neville Brothers shows are slated for this weekend: Saturday at The Center for Performing Arts in University Park (on the Governors State University campus) and Sunday at the McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn (on the College of DuPage campus). For additional information, log onto or or

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