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SOTO/BIELER In Boston, MA

By Larry Petro, News Monkey
Sunday, June 11, 2023 @ 8:44 AM


At The Boston City Winery, May 25, 2023

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Photos By George Dionne/@rockisgeorge

As a longtime Jeff Scott Soto fan and more recent Jason Bieler fan, I was excited to see the duo making a stop in Boston, Massachusetts for their SOTO/BIELER project. I made sure to purchase the VIP admission so I could attend the sound check, Q & A, and meet-and-greet portion of the event.

This was my first time attending a show at Boston City Winery. The venue is a lot larger than I had imagined. It has two, what I would call function areas that double as entertainment rooms. Plus it is a restaurant and winery, which also has communal events. It was currently paint night.

There wasn't much to the sound check portion of the show. Bieler played a couple of lines from "Water" by LIZZO. There were plenty of questions for the Q & A, including numerous questions about Soto's time in JOURNEY that fans just can't put to bed already. He doesn't answer them anyway. He and Bieler just change the subject.

I asked Jason Bieler why he released his current album Postcards From The Asylum (review on KNAC.COM HERE) independently and not on Frontiers Music like his prior album Songs For The Apocalypse. The short answer was he didn't need 30 people giving their opinions on the final product.

I asked Jeff Scott Soto when we can expect his new album with Michael Anthony (VAN HALEN), Phil X (BON JOVI), and John Douglas (AEROSMITH) to be released. The short answer is, there never was a band. The guys had noodled around with a VAN HALEN song recently, then all of a sudden, it's a band. However, that's the only song that exists and it's unfinished.

The meet-and-greet portion was a bit chaotic and unorganized. Soto and Bieler did their best to shake hands, take pictures, and sign merch before showtime. However, there wasn't enough time to do that before the general admission crowd came in. Pat Badger of EXTREME showed up, and people were rushing to shake his hand and snap a photo too.

Now, SOTO/BIELER isn't so much a musical performance as it's a stand-up comedy routine with portions of music in it. The duo made it clear from the get-go that they never really get through an entire song. Also, SOTO/BIELER isn't so much focused on Soto material as it is on Bieler's SAIGON KICK material. With all of that in mind, the night was still quite entertaining.

In between a set of SAIGON KICK's greatest hits were true stories, stories of questionable nature, audience hecking, artists heckling the audience, obscure and popular cover tunes, and of course demands for a JOURNEY song.

Jeff and Jason only had a single Fender guitar backing them up, but their harmonies filled the room. I can't claim to be the biggest SAIGON KICK fan, but hearing their songs in this format certainly has me taking a second look at their back catalog. I can now see why they were hugely popular...in Indonesia.

I still can't tell if covers of "You're The One That I Want", "Love Will Keep Us Together", "Close to You", and "Mandy" were serious, or played for laughs. I also don't know why I know all of those songs. They sounded great either way. Beiler's take on HARRY STYLES' "Watermelon Sugar" was impressive. Since Harry isn't really my thing, I thought this was an obscure SAIGON KICK song. I checked out the original version later, and I think I'll stick with Bieler's version.

Bieler shared a story about how he gives Kip Winger (WINGER) a hard time about his first name Kip meaning chicken in another language (you'll get that joke later). He also made the crowd aware that the SAIGON KICK song "Coming Home" appeared in a big '90s action movie starring...Brian Bosworth.

In addition to backing up Jason on vocals, Jeff Scott Soto had plenty of moments where he shared songs from his various projects. "Comes Down Like Rain" (W.E.T.), "Alive" (SONS OF APOLLO), and "Just Between Us" (TALISMAN) were still just as powerful in a semi-acoustic setting.

"I Am The Viking" (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN), set to the tune of "More Than Words" (EXTREME) was interesting to say the least. I'm sure Pat Badger had a good laugh. Finally after being heckled about JOURNEY all night, Soto led the crowd in a performance of "Don't Stop Believin'".

For some reason the night ended with "F**k Y** it's Christmas", but no one was complaining. It's clear that Jeff and Jason were having a great time on stage performing, riffing, and interacting with the crowd. The fans loved it too. Personally I would have liked to have heard material from Jason Bieler's last two solo albums, but perhaps that's a show for a different time.

Partial setlist:

  • "All I Want" (SAIGON KICK)
  • "What You Say" (SK)
  • "One Step Closer" (SK)
  • "Coming Home" (SK)
  • "The Lizard" (SK)
  • "I Love You" (SK)
  • "Love Is On The Way" (SK)
  • "Just Between Us" (TALISTMAN)
  • "Alive" (SONS OF APOLLO)
  • "I Am The VIking" (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN)


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