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Issue 1084

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Lee Fields: Under The Bridge, London 26/07/13

Lee Fields: Under the Bridge, London 26/07/13
Lee Fields: Under the Bridge, London 26/07/13 Lee Fields: Under the Bridge, London 26/07/13 Lee Fields: Under the Bridge, London 26/07/13 Lee Fields: Under the Bridge, London 26/07/13

By all rights, Lee Fields should be packing out bigger venues...for someone who has rubbed shoulders with some of soul music's top figures, Under The Bridge in Chelsea might have seemed small for such a big talent. But securing the show was a major coup for the nightspot, and its intimacy suited the 500-ish strong crowd perfectly.

Perhaps unusually for an artist now in his sixties, the last four years have seen Fields record some of the freshest - and most acclaimed - material of his career. And it was striking that a large section of his audience was less than half the star's age - an encouraging sign for an artist heading a classic soul revival.

Ably supported by New Street Adventure, who were warmly received by the crowd, Fields took to the stage alongside The Expressions, who he collaborated with on 2009's "My World" LP and last year's "Faithful Man."

In the past he has been nicknamed the 'Little JB', because of his resemblance to James Brown, and it's clear from his stage presence he has studied the Godfather of Soul's act in detail. Fields produced some very Brown-esque dance moves, and several times delivered a 'scream' reminiscent of the Hardest Working Man In Showbusiness.

Yet as his last two albums show, Fields is far from just a mimic act. Commanding the stage with the confidence that more than 40 years of experience gives, he delivered a high energy show that, dare I say it, the Godfather would have been pleased with. Fields boasts the ability to convey the same emotion and intensity in his voice onstage as he can on his records.

His show began with the title track from "My World," and soon launches,aptly, into the more recent belter "I Still Got It." Songs including "Ladies", "Money Is King" and an intense version of "Sunny" gave him a chance to show off his impressive vocal range.

The highlight was an impeccable version of "Faithful Man," in my view one of the best tracks laid down by anyone in the last five years. Fields clearly relished performing in front of an captivated audience, and his voice filled the room as the show reached a pulsating crescendo.

In another nod to James Brown, he appeared to be lumbering offstage, seemingly exhausted, before leaping back to centre stage and delivering a final chorus.

Encore track "Honey Dove", another highlight from the "My World" LP, was delivered with high energy - audience members edged to the front to high-five the frontman...another benefit with the intimate venue.

He may now be one of the elder statesmen of the soul scene, but if current form is any measure, there are plenty more exciting years to come from Lee Fields and co.

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

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