REVIEW: Light of Day at the Half Moon, Putney

Ed Manion, tenor sax, onstage for Light of Day at The Half Moon
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2015. All Rights Reserved

Light of Day
(The Half Moon, Putney, 8th December 2015; review and drawings by Geoff Winston)

The Light of Day Foundation is a primarily musician-led organisation which raises funds for research into Parkinson's Disease. Since 2000 over $3 million has been raised through awareness-raising concerts in New York/New Jersey and extensive international tours by a dedicated community of high profile rock musicians, many of whom have links with the Asbury Park scene and count Bruce Springsteen in their midst.

So, it was a delight for the Half Moon, who donated the venue for the evening, to welcome, amongst other luminaries, two horn players from the current E Street Band, Ed Manion and Jake Clemons (nephew of the late Clarence Clemons, Springsteen's lynchpin saxophonist for many years) and the band's original drummer, Vini 'Mad Dog' Lopez.

It was non-stop, with terrific playing all the way through, and a coterie of devoted fans who knew all the words to the Joe D’Urso and Eric Bazilian songs as well as others which tracked back to Vini Lopez's days with The Boss in his earliest bands, and on the seminal The Wild The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle album. With only a single snare drum, and no excuses (did his kit get held up in transit or was he travelling light?), he was the perfect accompanist to each of the musicians, a great MC and a solid singer when the repertoire required.

Joe D'Urso and Vini Lopez singing their hearts out with Jake Clemons on sax (lower rt), on Springsteen's 'Hold On'
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2015. All Rights Reserved

Jake Clemons won everybody over with his own carefully crafted songs, playing acoustic guitar on these, and joining in on tenor sax on others.

Ed Manion on tenor sax had all that horn power and soul that is associated with the E Street Band, as well as great sophistication in his playing – the musician’s musician, who showcased songs from his new album and, like Tony Bennett, picks only 'good songs by good songwriters'.

The great Laura Nyro was amongst these. Gene Pitney's Town Without Pity, and a segue of Springsteen's City of Night with King Curtis's Soul Serenade hit the spot beautifully, and also led to one of many amusing anecdotes - how the E Street Horns were completely caught out one night when Springsteen launched in to Chuck Berry's You Never Can Tell without a word of warning (or any rehearsal!).

Manion initiated a moving minute’s silence for the Paris victims, followed by a touching rendition of Amazing Grace by the whole ensemble. When the audience were asked what time it was (answer: 'Christmas Time’), as a prelude to a rocking Santa Claus is Coming to Town, a couple of the band members piped up ‘Chanukah’!

Joe D’Orso came across as a real natural and had the audience in the palm of his hand, as did the self-effacing, yet undeniably extrovert Eric Bazilian. New Jersey musician, Rob Dye, soulful singer Miss Emily of great voice and warm presence, and London songsmith, Adam Masterson added to the party atmosphere. Renditions of Neil Young's anthemic Rockin In The Free World and Powderfinger came through strongly, as did an early Steel Mill song (Bruce's earlier band) Back to Georgia. Engaging, personal stories and some heartfelt reminiscences along the way added that bit extra to a memorable evening - all in a great cause.


Ed Manion (E Street horns, The Asbury Jukes): tenor sax
Jake Clemons (E Street Band): vocals, guitar, tenor sax
Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez (R&R Hall of Fame member - E Street Band, Steel Mill): percussion, vocals
Eric Bazilian (The Hooters): vocals, mandolino
Joe D’Urso (Stone Caravan): vocals, guitar
Rob Dye: vocals, guitar
Miss Emily: vocals, guitar
Adam Masterson: vocals, guitar

LINK: Light of Day Foundation

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