Let Your Soul Glow

January 10th, 2011

Lee Fields & the Expressions – The Bowery Ballroom – January 7, 2011

(Photo: Casey Sommers)

(Photo: Casey Sommers)

On Friday night, the Bowery Ballroom audience eagerly awaited Lee Fields, but first an interlude. His very talented backing band, the Expressions—four horns, guitar, bass and drums—took the stage and lit into three tight instrumentals before summoning Fields, 15 minutes later, to the strains of “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from Rocky. The funk and soul singer, who’s been performing since the ’60s, strutted onstage in a shiny suit and immediately wowed the crowd with his voice and passion and then kept them in shake-it-don’t-break-it mode until the very end.

It was clear that Fields was as happy to be in attendance as those who had paid to be there: With a big smile, he repeatedly shouted, “I love you!” to the audience, and he later called out to his wife, who was sitting upstairs. In between songs, like “Money Is King” and “Ladies,” Fields asked concertgoers close to the stage and the Expressions, who compare favorably to another Brooklyn band, the Dap-Kings, what to play next. With his showmanship, grunts and shouts, it’s easy to liken Fields to James Brown, especially when he covered the Godfather of Soul’s “Bewildered.” —R. Zizmor