Lee Fields at Summerstage was the essence of soul. The 70s obscurity with barely an album to his name, returned to the scene with the Expressions in 2009. At Summerstage, Fields poured on the soul like a current Pendergrass.
In two thirds of a three piece suit he stood center stage and poured out his soul on heartbreaker after heartbreaker, mostly taken off his 2009 My World. This was the most essential element of soul, the pouring out of the deepest emotions. Lee asked if we wanted to party, but except for "Ladies" he wasn't offering a party, he was their to testify to a depth of emotion, to a reaching downwards which refused any form of cathartic whatsoever. It was to get down, but down down down.
The expressions are a fine soul band with three horn players who can play. They opened the show with three instrumentals (hot on the heels of their instrumental takes on My World earlier this year). It was a beautiful but not a joyful sound.
Lee is precisely the same, he is the sort of soulman who calls a song "Honey Dove" and then tears your heart out with it, and follows the song with "Money Is King" and quoting James Brown, but not moving to r&b.. Ballads weren't dance least time I looked, and following Fitz and co with a difficult but sublime set is always gonna be a hassle. But this is perfect sweet soul music, and repayed attention with something we get all too rarely nowadays.
Lee has a sure hand and presence on stage and the band are more than back up. The rhythm section is adhered to Lee, it moves in subtlety and power.
Good show, not the one I wanted but I will get around to buying the album on its strength.
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Madison Square Garden get the fuck outta here