New York Bowery Ballroom

His band makes blues, hip-hop, folk-rock, rap and heavy metal sound as if they were always meant to go together...

Everlast exposes his heart and soul at the Bowery Ballroom tonight, but one thing he will never get soft about is “that bitch Slim Shady.” There’s certainly no love lost between the former House Of Pain frontman and Sir Slim, a.k.a. Eminem, the current king of the white rapper’s throne. Their feud reportedly started when Everlast blasted Eminem on a remixed version of Dilated Peoples’ ‘Ear Drum Pop’. Eminem retaliated by slamming Everlast’s guitar playing, singing and age on ‘I Remember’, a B-side by Eminem’s pet project D-12, whose album is due out this spring.

And so, midway through his hour-long set, Everlast stops singing about an old love that is clearly still burning a hole in his artificially-valved heart (he suffered a cardiac arrest while recording 1998’s ‘Whitey Ford Sings The Blues’) and launches into ‘Whitey’s Revenge’, a bare-bones rap that rips into Slim Shady. (It can be downloaded at http://www.forevereverlasting.com/revenge.html.) When it’s over, Everlast continues, “On that note, I’d like to dedicate this song to Mr. Marshall Mathers ‘cuz it probably made him want to be a rapper.” The horns of House Of Pain’s 1992 hit ‘Jump Around’ resound, and onlookers lose it for a good few minutes as they heed the song’s call to “Jump! Jump! Jump!”

“That was the silly part of the night,” Everlast grins afterward, and it’s true – he doesn’t need to stoop to this level for effect, although it’s fun to witness. His band, which features Fishbone’s John Bigham on guitar, makes blues, hip-hop, folk-rock, rap and heavy metal sound as if they were always meant to go together.

Everlast himself comes across as a tough yet sensitive B-boy who’s not afraid to admit that he’s under the spell of a – gasp – woman. “Tonight I’m going to sing like 14 songs about this one chick that I haven’t even seen in six years, so I don’t know what the fuck that means,” he explains before ‘7 Years’. He attributes ‘Black Coffee’, ‘Love for Real’ and ‘One And The Same’ to the same mystery bird, generating a sympathetic cry of “I hear you, man!” from one sot in the crowd.

One thing is for sure: the source of all this angst is not the Brand New Heavies’ N’Dea Davenport, who slips onstage for ‘Love for Real’ and ‘One And The Same’. “I want to make it very clear that I am not that chick,” Davenport says affectionately as she clasps the mike. “You could have been,” Everlast replies sweetly, encouraging the crowd to tell Davenport how great she looks.

Let’s see Eminem top that.

Mia Quagliarello