Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Live

Eli Paper Reed: Jazz Cafe, London 7/06/16

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Ever since "There's Gonna Be An Explosion Baby" burst on to the scene in 2011 via (MOTD!) I was smitten with this guy's music a great mix that combined the rawness and power of punk, shimmering with old school retro loveliness in the shape of sweet soul & r&b. My gut feeling told me this was going to a great gig and besides, I was curious to see the newly refurbished Jazz Cafe...

It's good to see that Columbo, its new owners, have invested money in rennovating this historic venue. I always felt that the actual place marred the experience of going there. If you ever needed the loo at the end of the night - well lets just say, you would have more chance of bumping into Roachford than finding any toilet paper!! World class performers and their paying fans deserve better facilities,thankfully this has been rectified with a much warmer enviroment now encased in wood. Very Noah's Ark!

From the off Eli was in the mood to take no prisoners a preacherman ready to ignite his flock with some firey soul consuming magic. Reed certainly created some excitement as plainly he is a consummate showman, a highly skilled guitarist and has voice raspier than wet sandpaper! Tonight's show was all about promoting his excellent new album "My Way Home" much more down-home, down-to-earth, gut-bucket kind of show-a fine set of raw secular gospel influenced soul gems exhilarating as hell and in essence, mandatory listening.

His well honed band (they all sing) deserve props too, the drummer is an absolute animal with flailing arms smashing his kit literally to a pulp whilst doing backing vocals as well - underpinned by the cool bass player who lurked in the dimly lit shadows at the back, stage left to the organist who had a neat trick of playing his lines as well as a wee tambourine-nice touch! Even the guitar that slowly drifted out of tune much to the dismay of Eli who tried valiantly, every so often to adjust it, didn't put the man off his stride he was here to do the business and nothing was going to affect his shtick!

Highlights were many, excellent cuts from the new album including, "Hold Out", a song that embodies that old chesnut and classic gospel ethos that everything's going to work out fine if you just keep your nerve and keep the faith, a theme that turns up throughout this electrifying gig, from the title track “My Way Home” to "Tomorrow's Not Promised" and by the time the killa track 'Explosion' came out the traps the audience were lapping it up as the band rock the stage like eager adolescents not content with going through the motions of another gig as so many do, giving it 110% to please and captivate us. Usually of late, it would seem to be the case that most gig goers turn up just to hear the best of an artist and more often than not talk over new or unfamiliar material. This I’m pleased to say was not the case during Eli's performance, they had the audience's fullest concentration from start to finish. It will be sometime before this gig gets beaten, frankly my dear I was enthralled and I do wholeheartedly give a damn! A top night in Camden me thinks...

PHOTOS: EMRYS BAIRD
Words Emrys Baird

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