You can forget about the fact that Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes changed labels, producers and streamlined their sound for their new album. What counts -- and what was clear from the way the band tore into their set at the Warner Theater last night -- is that the Jukes still have few rivals when it comes to live rock 'n' roll.
As usual the pre-show air was thick with rumors that Bruce Springsteen might show, but they dissipated the moment the 11-piece troupe took the stage with "All I Want Is Everything" -- the Jukes' way of coping with the age of lowered expectations. The group followed with Southside's urban growl and Rush's menacing lead guitar. Just how tight the Jukes have become was evident on Solomon Burke's "Gotta Get You Off My Mind," where one heated solo followed another, yielding finally to a barrage of Memphis brass and percussion.
There was even a treat in store for those who miss Southside's mouth harp on his new release. He pulled the Nighthawks' Mark Wenner from the audience and the pair ripped open a couple of Chicago blues by Junior Wells.
Then, with Springsteen's "The Fever," the Jukes put to rest two rumors: that "The Boss" was going to make an appearance and that the Jukes have become anything than explosive on stage.