Southside Johnny salutes ‘Stupid Cupid’ at Stone Pony (REVIEW WITH VIDEOS, PHOTOS AND SETLIST)

Southside Johnny Stone Pony


Southside Johnny with drummer Tom Seguso at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Feb. 16.

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes’ Valentine’s Day Weekend show at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Feb. 16, was not all hearts and flowers. Not that you would expect that.

His repertoire, after all, has more love-gone-wrong songs than love songs. And the show’s theme was “Stupid Cupid.” (For several years now, he has been presenting special theme shows, annually, at the Pony in February.)

And so this was a Valentine’s Weekend show that included covers of The J. Geils Band’s brutally sour “Love Stinks,” David Ruffin’s heartbroken “My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)” and Mink DeVille’s “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl,” not to mention unsentimental mainstays of Southside’s setlists such as “Love on the Wrong Side of Town” and “I Played the Fool.” 

Of course, there were some genuinely sweet and tender songs in the show, too. Highlights included a cover of Jerry Butler and the Impressions’ stately ballad “For Your Precious Love” and “Words Fail Me,” a plainspoken but powerful love song from Southside and the Jukes’ 2015 album Soultime! that was co-written by Southside and Jukes keyboardist Jeff Kazee and inspired, Southside told us, by a “real person,” Kazee’s wife Constance.

Keyboardist-vocalist Jeff Kazee, left, and Southside Johnny at The Stone Pony.

Still, more typical of this show was the  Rolling Stones’ hard-charging “Happy,” with Southside pleading “I need a love to keep me happy” over the Jukes’ jagged riffs.

Southside’s voice was in good shape, and he was in good spirits performing at his home base for a enthusiastic sold-out crowd. He mentioned that he still lives within walking distance of the Pony (in Ocean Grove), and that he will be back at the outdoor Stone Pony Summer Stage for his traditional Fourth of July week show, July 7 (tickets are not on sale yet).

Kazee sang lead on a cover of The Band’s “It Makes No Difference” that, interestingly, was more gruffly soulful and less delicate than the original; almost like it would have sounded if The Band’s Richard Manuel had sung it, instead of Rick Danko. Guitarist Glenn Alexander dazzled with his solos despite, Southside told us, being “sick as a dog”; and John Isley, who plays the most romantic instrument in the horn section (the saxophone), got, perhaps, a little more soloing time than usual, and made the most of it.

Southside didn’t stick strictly to the “Stupid Cupid” theme. He and the band took a seemingly impromptu stab at Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” at one point, and the show’s last five songs — “Talk to Me,” “This Time It’s for Real,” “I Don’t Want to Go Home” and encores “Trapped Again” and “Having a Party” — could have been the last five songs at any Jukes show over the last 30 or 40 years.


Still, it was a special night — a high-energy show in an intimate venue, with lots of rarely played songs. (Or never played? I’m not sure. If anyone thinks any of these songs were debuts, please let me know in the comments section below.)

Singer-songwriter Remember Jones opened the show, performing in “piano serenade” format with keyboardist Mark Masefield (who also joined the Jukes for a couple of songs later, playing piano while Kazee stuck to organ). They were fine, on both covers (including Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better,” Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” and The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Darlin’ Be Home Soon”) and original material (they ended the set with their explosive ballad, “Why Don’t They Cry?,” co-written with Rick Barry). 

Still, I’m not sure it was a good decision to put a piano-and-vocals act onstage as the opening act before a packed Stone Pony crowd. People talked — unbelievably loudly, I thought — throughout the set, which made it hard to concentrate on the music. This was disrespectful to both Remember Jones and the people who wanted to hear him.

Some people talked a bit during Southside’s ballads, too, but most people were paying attention. During Remember Jones set, it really felt like there was a constant roar, competing with the music. 

Here is the Southside Johnny’s setlist and, below that, some videos:

“Better Days”
“I Played the Fool”
“For Your Precious Love”
“Walk Away Renée”/”Cupid”
“Without Love”
“My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)”
“Love Stinks”
“Ride the Night Away”
“It Makes No Difference” (Jeff Kazee, lead vocals)
“Kitty’s Back”
“Sweet Home Alabama” (excerpt)
“Love on the Wrong Side of Town”
“The Fever”
“Words Fail Me”
“Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl”
“Talk to Me”
“This Time It’s for Real”
“I Don’t Want to Go Home”

“Trapped Again”
“Having a Party”

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Cindy Zwicker February 17, 2018 - 11:28 am

Remember Jones was absolutely awesome whether he has his full band with him or his outstanding keyboardist. Where I was standing I didn’t hear any talking, people were paying attention and loving every minute of his beautiful vocals. I felt ithete was way more talking during Southsides performance . As to werher It was a smart move to put Remember Jones on as an opening act for a packed house, It was a brilliant move; so brilliant that remember Jones will be opening for Southside Johnny July 7 on the outdoor stage. ! He has a tremendous following in Asbury , actually wherever he performs so if anyone last night had never seen Remember Jones, they walked away mesmerized by his beautiful voice and outstanding showmanship. The night couldn’t have been any more perfect and the buzz feed today over social media agrees!

Pete Mallen February 17, 2018 - 4:02 pm

From where we were standing for the Remember Jones set. Everyone was grooving. I also think the pairing of the two bands was great. People are gonna talk no matter what. I once got shushed at a Paul McCartney concert. LOL.

I loved that they played the David Ruffin song. As great as Johnny did with it, nobody could sing it like David Ruffin. But I’m still abuzz that it was played. Totally unexpected. I wonder if they had ever played that song live before?

Looking forward to seeing Remember Jones open for Ronnie Spector and then Southside in the summer.

Joseph hansell February 18, 2018 - 4:03 pm

I’m not sure where the complaint about people talking “incredibly loudly”, whatever that means, comes from. From where I was, people were actually pretty respectful for RJ.

Pam Frederick February 17, 2018 - 5:15 pm

I had never seen or heard of Remember Jones before last night…… I was blown the hell away! When they did Edgar Winter’s “Dying To Live”, I was awestruck! What a voice! And his range is phenomenal! I’m an instant fan! I too was not aware of the talking during the show. With music, I get in to a zone that doesn’t end until the the house lights come up. Thanks for listening.

Nancy Steeves February 17, 2018 - 8:47 pm

One song I’d love to hear at SSJ concerts is “take it inside”. It is a song I never hear sung and I’ve been going to many shows when SSJ comes to NH or MA. Thank you for considering this. Another song I’d love to hear is “Forever” which I believe SSJ sang with Little Stevie way back when. I know he has played this a some shows but I have not been fortunate enough to hear it in NH or MA. I did hear him sing this when he played in RI last February.

Billy Murphy February 18, 2018 - 5:36 pm

Southside and The Jukes put on a stellar performance. Everyone got some time in the spotlight and Johnny was in fine form. The setlist was ridiculously strong and they chose some choice covers as well. Amazing, amazing version of “Without Love”. The band still delivers like no one else.


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