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Issue 1084

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Lee Fields & The Expressions, Mighty Mocambos + New St Adventure: Islington Town Hall 3/4/12

Lee Fields and The Expressions: Islington Town Hall 3/4/12
Lee Fields and The Expressions: Islington Town Hall 3/4/12 Lee Fields and The Expressions: Islington Town Hall 3/4/12 Lee Fields and The Expressions: Islington Town Hall 3/4/12 Lee Fields and The Expressions: Islington Town Hall 3/4/12 New Street Adventure: Islington Town Hall 3/4/12 Nick Corbin (New Street Adventure) Islington Town Hall 3/4/12 New Street Adventure frontman Nick Corbin: Islington Town Hill 3/4/12 Dueling guitars care of The Mighty Mocambos: Islington Town Hall 3/4/12 Yeah but no for Caroline Lacaze (The Mighty Mocambos) Islington Town Hall 3/4/12

The buzz surrounding Lee Fields had grown to fever pitch by the time his one and only London date had arrived. The myth was about to be realised! The sumptuous Islington town hall (now seconded by hip promoters Senbla and AGMP) prepared itself for a funk and soul extravaganza that frankly did not disappoint, and a career spanning forty three years was about to come alive!

First up, however, was die-hard soul-lovers New Street Adventure led by the affable Nick "Scooter Boy" Corbin. This fresh outfit wasted no time at all in launching into their brand new killer track (on their own label Unmasked Recordings) "Hangin' On / Hangin' Up." A bright and breezy, uptempo, sure fire belter with kicking horns courtesy of trumpeter, Paul Jordanous and trombonist Tom White. It totally exudes the sound of summer with those classic soul chords, (you know like "Groovin' On A Sunday Afternoon" by The Rascals) suffice to say, it pricked the ears up straight away of the now filing in audience trickling in to witness all nine of them plying their wares gleefully!

Corbin exudes confidence, naive yet knowing, verbose yet totally likeable and generous too as he relinquishes the lead to his backing singing, Adventurette Carmella Davis, who cruises soulfully through this ode to Motown with gusto and relish. The band have really warmed up now and seized the moment to be apart of this glorious and seminal night. Particular highlight of their set was the heartfelt "Foolish Once More" a beautiful love song and an exemplary piece of work showing Corbin's melodic and skilful songwriting prowess, basically an absolute knockout delight! Their final number, the anthemic "Big AC" custom built for them left us all with a smile on our faces, it's their signature tune (inspired by graffiti in the 100 club's toilet!) and proved that this bunch of young soulstirrers NSA like BSA are keeping it proud and British - engrossing stuff!

Following quickly on to keep the momentum going was The Mighty Mocambos from Hamburg who launched into their stride straight from the off. Kicking in with the funkiest breakbeat of the night as one by one they came on. This lot are horn heavy Two Trumpets, Trombone and Baritone Sax ensuring a full sound to their glorious fatback funk. Afrika Bambaata's "Piece Unity And Love" grabbed us straight away, an effortless funk workout that set the tempo for their energetic set. P.I.M.P their standout track, really blew my mind too! A kind of dubstep, despotic, detonator that flipped the mood into jiggy-jiggy instantly and had me and my girl writhing round the dance floor in sensual abandon! An absolute stonker, I urge you to check that one out! However no sooner had they completely whetted my appetite, proceedings took a turn for the worse, as guest singer Caroline Lacaze ambled on in ill fitting shorts a blue leopard print top and Vicky Pollard hairstyle, she looked like she'd come to sign on! And not to deliver some pizzaz and glamour, which she could have so easily done with a bit of forethought she could have wowed us. Call Gok Wan quick for god's sake (try saying that fast!!)!! Fortunately the next number was a JB type, a slow grinding wonder with a great chant filling the room "Baby Ain't Got No Honey Sugar, Just Got Some Honey" which instantly restored my faith and the double necked red flying V guitar played by both the right and left handed guitarists, on the last number was an absolute scene stealer! Whilst there are countless funk bands out there doing this stuff, The Mighty Mocambos stand tall. Few of them are capable of mixing musicianship and showmanship like these guys, funk might not be evolving but who cares! It sure is fun when you hear this type of quality.

So on to the main act and the main man, who gets crate diggers and soul aficionados all in a quiver, little 'JB' himself - the legendary, Lee Fields. Two customary warm-ups, courtesy of the Truth & Soul Records house band with swirly organ and the biggest red guitar I've ever seen! Were dispatched with vim and vigour before the star of the show strolled on. What a reception he got too! Like a revival meeting down south, this 61 year old came to spread the word, and the message got through loud and clear. Lee pulled out all the stops "I love you" he proclaimed and the love came right back to him tenfold and more Those Field-hollering yelps and cries from the heart Otis style, resonated deeply as he ploughed on through his latest LP. Especially the title track "Faithful Man" tugging at the heart strings incessantly, all beautifully backed up by the Expressions, who kept inspiring soul brother no2 to further heights! The electrifying fervour is maintained on the current single too "Your The Kind of Girl." This is the type of song that will make you appreciate LOVE & HAPPINESS and all the sweet return that comes with, letting them know it's all about focussing on the love we share and how to keep the flames from going out.........hallelujah!

So, drenched in sweat, it was time for lil' JB to take it down a notch with just a guitar as backing on the Otis inspired "Could Have Been." A soulquake which headed straight for the heart, especially when the band kicked in on the coda causing a manic euphoria that went bone deep, showmanship and intensity that thankfully didn't die when James Brown did. Sly, slick and wicked - Lee wasn't ready to pack up just yet, his popular 45 "Do You Love Me" was next. Then spreading the love til it couldn't stretch no more, the finale Bobby Hebb's 'Sunny'.

A 3/4 ballad until halfway, the tempo and time switches into a soulful maelstrom, which rammed it all home to us how majestic this guy is. Tonight LF rose to the occasion and we got on Lee's level too - imperishable popular soul that will never die. A top Night, enough said!
Words Emrys Baird

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