Clarence Clemons - saxophone, vocals; John J.T. Bowen - lead vocals; David Landau - guitar; Lloyd Landesman - keyboards; Hugh McDonald - bassist; Wells Kelly - drums; Dennis Amoruso - saxophones, keyboards
Clarence Clemons, also known as "The Big Man" in his other life as a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, had a viable solo career when he released a couple of successful albums in the mid-1980s. This show was recorded at the onset of his first solo U.S. tour, at Ripley's Music Hall in Philadelphia, a favorite spot of the Springsteen crowd.
Clemons was smart to bring on a great vocalist to balance his own thick and sassy saxophone playing. J.T. Bowens, who vocally is in the same range as Wilson Pickett, is the perfect singer for the Red Bank Rockers. This is a rock 'n' roll band, not a funk or soul group, and by using an R&B styled vocalist he was able to project a different vibe than one would expect from his tenure with Springsteen.
"Money To The Rescue" and "Heartache 99" could easily have been part of the E Street Band set list, had the Boss written them. Clemons turns them upside down here, though, blasting out his sax in both. The group actually does two songs written by Springsteen: "Saving Up," which was a single for Clemons, and "Fire," a mostly instrumental piece he actually gave to both Robert Gordon and The Pointer Sisters. Clemons' version of the Springsteen standard only has singing on the word "Fire," but the audience hardly cares; they're singing along anyway. Another highlight is "Soul Serenade," propelled by Bowen's amazing voice.
A surprise encore is Clemons' version of The Beatles classic "A Hard Days Night." It starts off with Clarence singing, but Bowens quickly takes over, and with good reason; Clemons can sure play the sax, but he can't sing lead. Nonetheless, this is a fun radio concert and a must for any fans of the E Street Band.