Southside Johnny Lyon rang in the New Year a couple of minutes early at the Warner Theatre Monday night, but hey, it was close enough for rock 'n' roll. Besides, when the official clock -- mounted high above the stage lights where only the audience could see it -- finally struck midnight, the crowd, already awash in confetti and balloons, merely erupted again. It wouldn't be the last time, either.
Following an old-fashioned, thumping rock show by the Skip Castro Band, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes did a little celebrating of their own. The combination of Lyon's raspy soul shouts, Billy Rush's pointed guitar solos and the band's blastingly emphatic horn section frequently achieved a level of inspired noise-making any rock 'n' roll reveler could appreciate. If anything, the early show only primed the band for this brashly energetic midnight encore.
Apart from a few Christmas leftovers (including a deliciously raunchy version of "Santa Claus Is Back in Town"), and the recently recorded "Brand New Coat of Paint" (a spirited showcase for the band's three horns), surprises were few. But as long as the Jukes are capable of performing invigorating versions of "I Don't Want to Go Home," "The Fever" and other favorites in concert, perhaps that's just as well.