Lee Fields Is As Cool As They Come

The Ballantynes’ Max Sample and Vanessa Dandurand – Photo credit: Jennifer McInnis
The Ballantynes’ Max Sample and Vanessa Dandurand – Photo credit: Jennifer McInnis

“Standing by Your Side” prompted the fella behind me to shout “Break that bass line down!” The vibe was set as Fields asked us if we were happy. The answer was clear. “It Still Gets Me Down” amped up the emotion in the room even more, as Fields appeared to tear up at one point, his voice raw and pained. “I got a little bit emotional…” he noted, sounding a little surprised at himself. You can’t fake this kind of thing. The song (as is the case with much of his repertoire) is a perfect example of great music that simply does not go out of style. Our great grandchildren will groove to this.

The group played nearly every track off the latest album, Emma Jean (Truth & Soul Records, 2014), as Fields reminded us of the title nonstop throughout the night. Emma Jean. Emma Jean. Emma Jean. The man’s gotta make a buck, after all. The pitch worked on me.

“Ladies” was lovingly dedicated to all “the ladies, mothers, sisters, daughters.” The laudatory ode to the fairer sex is impossible not to sway to. “You’re sugar / You’re spice / You’re everything nice / A man is incomplete without a lady in his life.” Fields followed his script, interacting with three women near the front. The third threw him a curveball when he asked, “Your man is worried about where you are tonight, huh?” Well, turns out she didn’t have a man, thank you very much. “Let’s hear it for this lady right here!”

The night ended perfectly with Lee Fields & the Expressions at their finest. “Faithful Man”, the title-track off his 2012 release, is a perfect cocktail of a song, mixing the ache of betrayal with the incomparable delight of enjoying forbidden fruit. “Never felt so guilty / Never felt so good.”

Lee Fields’ show at the Imperial last Thursday was a reminder of what a well-honed performance delivered by a supremely talented, professional entertainer can be – captivating, authentic, and unforgettable.

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All photos by Jennifer McInnis (www.creativecopperimages.com). All rights reserved.