Lee Fields and The Expressions with Ketchy Shuby at The Stage, December 1

Lee Fields and The Expressions

With Ketchy Shuby

Presented by Sweat Records and M.O. 

The Stage Miami

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Better Than:Ray starring Jamie Foxx; Watching re-runs of Soul Train on YouTube; and Barack Obama singing Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" at the Apollo Theater.

This past Saturday night, The Stage became a temple infused with the spirit of soul as manifested in the musical traditions of archetypal and smoky Harlem nightclubs in Harlem, and sweat-soaked countryside juke joints.

And the master of ceremonies was none other than Lee Fields, a 43-year veteran singer and performer with vocal cords as piping hot as ever.

See also:

-Q&A: Lee Fields Talks Soul Music, Making EDM With Martin Solveig, and His 43-Year Career

Before Mr. Fields's steamy hollering and transcendental crooning ushered in a soul music Pentecost, the more punctual members of the audience were treated to the expert spinning of Mr. Action Pat.

Rarely does one encounter a DJ that inspires thoughts of mugging to claim ownership over their vinyl arsenal. Luckily, Pat was dressed way too nice for us to jump him and run off with his seemingly inexhaustible collection of funk infernos, doo-wop derivatives, and classic butt-shakin' music.

Opening act Ketchy Shuby kept the party going with their very Miami blend of Afro-Latin-funk-rock-fusion. Their high-energy performance would not be entirely out of place on a cruise or playing over a montage of traffic jams on the Palmetto. From the way folks were moving early on, it was clear that Lee Fields was going to make this crowd pop like a stick of dynamite.

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Which is precisely what he did. Fields's style is not only rooted in a long, established tradition. It enacts that tradition head-on. Before his set, we spoke with another attendee about whether or not the new wave of soul -- as epitomized by labels like Daptone and Truth & Soul, and artists like Sharon Jones and Lee Fields -- is strictly a "retro" experience.

Photo by Sheila Gainer

But once Lee and his Expressions took the stage, it was clear that these kinds of performers dishing out this kind of music are unstuck in time. Of course, the sound and style of big-band R&B, be it up-tempo or down, is not inherently "classic." But for whatever reason, its appeal has endowed the genre with a universality that frees it from the chains of context.

Fields was not conducting a historical reenactment, but was instead sweating, hooting, hollering, and wailing in the here and now, as though he hadn't already been doing it for 43 years. He didn't move like a 62 year old. He moved like a man possessed by the spirit of soul. And his audience responded in kind.

Best dressed? Lee Fields's pre-show tracksuit gave Action Pat a run for his money.

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: Norms, yups, hips, out-of-place soul nerds.

From the Crowd: Ketchy Shuby were heckled with their own song titles.

Personal Bias: Lee Fields is the fucking man.

Bonus Content: Here's a video of Lee from his performance at The Stage, proving, once and for all, that he's "Still Got It."

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