SOUL SIRKUS
Trocadero Theatre, Philadelphia, PA
Friday, April 8th, 2005
by Johnny Rogers

So here it is, the most anticipated show on my schedule since hearing of it being booked a couple months back. Granted, I am highly biased right off the bat due to my constant playing of the Soul SirkUS debut CD "World Play" that I received back in December. Immediately this disc clarifies the term MEGABAND solidly, and completely. The musicianship in this band is extraordinary, with all members seasoned vets of rock’s upper class. The "World Play" disc has received nothing but strong, favorable reviews since its release. The only question on the whole package would be, "Will these guys pull off the brilliance of the record on the stage?”

In the past I have been able to witness most of these guys in their other bands and know full well what to expect from them individually. Of course there’s Neal Schon, the most recognized member, with Journey, Bad English, and Hardline. Then there’s Jeff Scott Soto, a long time ago singer with Yngwie. Marco Mendoza has been with Blue Murder, Sykes, Thin Lizzy, Nugent, and Whitesnake. The only member I have not seen live before was the newest member of the band, Virgil Donati, who has played with Steve Vai, and Planet X.

With a resume like this the collective members of the band could only produce stellar, kick ass, take no prisoners, powerhouse rock & roll!!!! Right???? Well my friends, the answer to this is a bonafide, resounding, YEAH MAN !!!! With absolutely no backing, and very little promo behind the show it was great to see that there was a pretty decent turnout at the Troc, The band hit the boards hard with a fierce version of “Higher Ground.” You could sense the vigorous aggression of the boys as Jeff belted out the lines with cocky swagger. His tone and deliverance throughout the show was very strong. A lot of comparisons are made to Jeff’s voice being like Steve Perry and I definitely hear it occasionally, but I wanna throw a couple other strong ingredients into the mix, like Joe Lynn Turner with a dash of Glenn Hughs, and Freddie Mercury, all shaken up and served ala the fire we know as Jeff Scott Soto.

After the opener, they tore into a high-energy version of “New Position” followed by the moody, funk-fueled, melodic hooks of “Friends 2 Lovers.” Next up was “Periled Divide” to set us up for my personal favorite, the locomotive rhythmic blast of “My Sanctuary.” You would think that after this the only way to go would be down a notch momentum wise. No my friends, with the monstrous opening crashes of The Rockstar movie anthem “Stand Up & Shout,” the crowd fired up even more with devil horns and metal fists pumping into the air. After this the boys laid back a little with Jeff sitting at the keys to lay down a real nice version of “Soul Goes On.”

Jeff then left the stage to the band with Neal delivering his trademark stadium tone with intense sustain in the smokin’ “Star Spangled Banner.” Stepping up to the mic, he handled vocals on a cool version of Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” and went into an extended breakdown “jam” of “Amazing Grace.” A Santana jam with musical tradeoffs between Marco, Neal and Virgil followed. Next was the Marco Mendoza extravaganza with Marco delivering Latin flavored bass and vocal sounds in the most amazing percussive spectacle I have ever witnessed in my life. Marco, my brother you are the bass man extraordinaire. A little extra special surprise came as Marco laid down a killer lead vocal on a tribute to former bandmate Ted Nugent with “Hey Baby.” I loved the bluesy swing between the band on this one. Great tune. Great Job. Thanks guys!

Finally, after a well-deserved break, Jeff returned for a great version of the song “Crazy” by Seal followed by some monster guitar in “Another World.” A new CD bonus track “I'm Alive” followed with “Close The Door” including a very strong drum solo featuring Virgil slamming the life out of his skins. The band closed the show with the Sammy Hagar co-written “Peephole.” After a short break and a lot of noise from a very appreciative crowd the boys came back with a knocked out version of Sly & The Family Stone’s, "I Wanna Take You Higher."

After an action-packed two hours plus of pure adrenaline the band brought the show to an end with a nice version of “Praise.” In retrospect of the show and CD together I have to say that Soul SirkUs is the standard for all rock bands to follow. An amazing group of musicians, awesome songwriting and an incredible live show. Thanks guys, I look forward to rocking with you again. Once again I would like to thank Jeff, Marco, Neal, and Virgil, all very cool guys at the aftershow. Also Todd J. Fern for the great posters to promote the show - your talents are incredible. Thanks Jim Rice from Tower Records for pushing the show. Very special thanks to Amanda Cagan, always working hard, and keeping us informed on the happenings of the greatest music around. You Rock Amanda!!!!!



Also Aaron Dilks & Crew - you are pulling off some magic guys, great job!!!!! Last but definitely not least, the owners and staff of The Trocadero for being the one place in Philly that keeps the real music alive.

Review & photos by
Johnny Rodgers

Website:
Soul SirkUS