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Festival review: Lee Fields and The Expressions

Adelaide Festival

The groove was contagious when Lee Fields and The Expressions took their audience on a soul-train ride on the Adelaide Festival’s Riverbank Palais.

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1969 was the year humankind first stepped on the Moon and the year of Elmer “Lee” Fields’ first single, “Bewildered”. Now, with a golden anniversary of recording and live-performance within his grasp, Lee Fields is a master of his craft who brought energy, emotion and sassy soul to the Adelaide Festival.

The Palais rests comfortably on the river, open to the evening air; bodies, breeze and music sharing the space. Against a sunset backdrop of the western city, the architectural soft and sharp skylines are in tune with the wail and croon of this seasoned frontman. He is open, engaged and totally comfortable in this intimate space.

Drawing on his 2016 release, “Special Night”, Fields – introduced as “the soul of soul singers” – bares his. The raw emotion of relationships, the intensity of love and the despair of break-up is the familiar subject matter.

He’s nicknamed “Little JB”, because of his resemblance to James Brown, and while it is not hard to see why, the gyrating hips and shuffling feet from much earlier in his career take second place now to a voice that has the angst and affection needed to lead you on a melancholy ride.

Audience interaction is a key, and Fields reads his audience well, lifting the mood and bringing you with him. With hands in the air, clapping, call and response, and the opportunity to sing along, you can be as active as you want to be – and the groove is contagious.

The Expressions are more than a backing band. They drive the performance, an engine running hot, red-lining from the opening note to the high-octane finale. It’s a cohesive collective where lead guitar and keyboard enhance Fields vocals, driven by the rhythms of the bass and drums.

Soul staples, trumpet and tenor sax complete an outfit that are enjoying this soul-train ride.

The final words are from the showman himself: “Have you got soul? Are you ready? I want you to sing with me cause together we can make the world better.”

Lee Fields and The Expressions performed last night as part of the Adelaide Festival’s live music series on The Palais. Read more InDaily Adelaide Festival stories and reviews here.

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