By Adam Waldman
Jeff Scott Soto is one of the most talented singers in hard rock, and has been for some time. Yet somehow, he still flies under the radar of many. If there is any justice, his latest project will open the eyes (and ears) of the masses. Like Van Halen, DIO and Dokken, SOTO is a band that bears the name of its founder. What makes SOTO so special is the talent that JSS has surrounded himself with at this point in his career.
Although JSS is far from a household name, his resume alone would lead you to believe that he would have some semblance of a road crew on his current tour. However, the man that owns the stage and the crowd once the lights go down, works tirelessly to keep the show on the road (so to speak) during his “off hours.”
JSS and I have gotten to know each other through the features that I’ve done on Hard Rock Daddy, but never got the chance to meet face-to-face until this past week when SOTO rolled through town. To say that the night of the concert was frigid would be an understatement. It was the type of bitter cold winter night where many choose to stay home rather than braving the elements, but for SOTO, the show must go on.
In speaking to JSS before the show, I asked if the setlist was going to exclusively feature songs from the two SOTO albums, to which he replied (with a smile on his face)…“I can’t tell you that…you would lose the element of surprise.” He was right. I was guilty of exhibiting the instant gratification mentality that has become all too common these days. It is that same mindset that will cause some of you to skim this article looking for the Top 10 Reasons Why You MUST Go See SOTO Live.
So, here goes…
- Inside The Vertigo
- Brazil / Spain
- Steel Dragon
- 5-Part Vocal Harmonies
- Steel Panther
The above list is cryptic by design. If I learned anything from my conversation with JSS, it is that it is better to forgo instant gratification and embrace the element of surprise. Those who are truly interested in the journey (and not just the destination) should read on to find out why you MUST go see SOTO in a live setting.
One of the true signs of a professional is playing with the same passion and intensity for a club crowd as you would for an arena or stadium show. It didn’t take long to see that SOTO is a band of true professionals. From the first song to the last, SOTO delivered a night of pure entertainment, despite the fact that they were playing on a tight stage with limited lighting and no soundcheck prior to performing.
While many frontmen with JSS’s resume would have felt slighted, he owned the moment by joking about the situation to the intimate (but passionate) crowd. Though the setting was the equivalent of being part of a group of friends watching a private show, the brilliant performance was the stuff that legends are made of.
The entire performance was as diverse as the career of JSS, ranging from heavy rockers to melodic ballads to cool grooves to acapella. All of the songs and styles worked equally well, which is a true testament to the players that JSS has assembled around him from different parts of the world.
As you watch the lead guitar work of Spain’s Jorge Salán, you can’t help but wonder how he (like JSS) has managed to fly below the radar of the masses. With Salán, it goes well beyond shredding (which he can do with the best of them). It’s the Slash-like musicality that really sets him apart from many others.
Although JSS calls California his home now, he is originally from Brooklyn, which happens to be the hometown of bassist David Z. Often times, bass players don’t get much of the glory, but because Z. is such a showman, he shared the spotlight with JSS and Salán. This was no easy feat given the cramped quarters on a stage with a limited spotlight. You can see why JSS tapped Z. for this band. The duo’s personalities play off of each other perfectly, and his incredible 6-string bass playing adds another layer to an already deep band.
Out of the spotlight (both figuratively and literally) were the Brazilian duo of BJ (keys/guitars) and Edu Cominato (drums). Like the rest of SOTO, this duo not only added to the incredible chemistry of the band musically, but vocally as well. In fact, it’s hard to recall seeing another band with five singers as talented as the members of SOTO.
If you took a time machine back to Sunset Strip in the mid-‘80s to see SOTO perform in a club, you would swear that you were witnessing a band about to break out to the next level to do arena shows. In 2016, arena shows barely exist in the hard rock and metal genres, but if you are lucky enough to catch SOTO perform live, you will be treated to an arena-like concert in an intimate setting.
Because JSS was right about the element of surprise being something that you should look forward to, I will not share the setlist here. The truth of the matter is that you don’t need to know one song to enjoy SOTO live. All you need is an appreciation for outstanding musicianship. Suffice it to say that the band performs a wide variety of songs and styles from different time periods of JSS’s career, all of which are equally entertaining. Simply stated, this is one of the best club shows that I’ve seen in many years. When you get the chance to experience this kind of band in an intimate setting, grab it! You will NOT be disappointed!
CLICK HERE for SOTO tour dates.