Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Eli 'Paperboy' Reed at the 100 Club

It's almost exactly ten years since I first saw Eli 'Paperboy' Reed perform solo in the top room of a pub in Chalk Farm. I was knocked out by this Boston boy's amazingly soulful voice and I've followed his career with interest ever since, bumping into him in LA a couple of years ago when we both, separately, toured the city's blues clubs and catching him at various gigs in London over the years. He has made several albums during the intervening years, comprising mostly original songs, and has now teamed up with the High and Mighty Brass Band, a New Orleans styled combo from New York, on a new album, featuring remakes of some of his older songs.
Eli and the brass band appeared at a packed out 100 Club in London last night to reveal the new sound. The High and Mighty band comprise two trombones. two trumpets, two drummers and a sousaphone and I guess if you like brass bands you would be in heaven. But for me it was a rather mixed experience. Eli's voice is as strong as ever, but whether the rather discordant backing of a loud brass band really shows off his wonderful voice to best effect is debatable. The band began by playing three instrumentals which set up the mood for Eli, who came on stage with his right leg in a cast, but otherwise looking good. He used his powerful voice to overcome the somewhat raucous backing, but it seemed a struggle at times. Maybe my recent attack of deafness in one ear (caused by attending too many loud gigs over the years) has affected my appreciation of what was undoubtedly a full blooded set, but some of the up tempo numbers were not really to my taste and I would have liked to have heard Eli with less intrusive backing.
Numbers included The Satisfier, Well Alright Now and the Joe Tex styled Name Calling, all from the new LP, but all previously recorded with Eli's old group The Trueloves. Your Sins Will Find You Out was a highlight, as was the excellent Walking and Talking (For My Baby). Other songs included I'm Gonna Getcha Back and Take My Love With You, also on the new album. The encore ended with Eli and the band leaving the stage for two stirring gospel numbers - Just A Closer Walk With Thee and Glory Glory Hallelujah - sadly invisible to most at the wrong end of the venue (I had left by this stage, so thanks to Dave for this bit).
It's always good to see Eli perform and I just love his voice, which has hints of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and even James Carr. But the brass band format was risky as it threatened to dominate. The crowd seemed to love it though, so maybe he's on to a winner.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home