Saturday, June 5, 2010

Eli "Paperboy" Reed @ Mercury Lounge 6.3.10

Photo from

It's time to dust off the Stax t-shirt. I went to see Eli "Paperboy" Reed (he got his nickname from an old hat of his) at the Mercury Lounge a few blocks away from the office on the early show bill at around 7:30. While not a sold out show, it was pretty packed for an early Thursday and I grabbed a couple of Circus Boy pints while waiting around for the show to begin. My girlfriend and I chatted with some of the AOL Music crew and EMI (Reed is currently on Capitol Records) and I was fairly excited seeing as how I hadn't had the pleasure of seeing an oldies throwback artist since my stretch of Pipettes shows or Camera Obscura (ok so maybe those weren't that long ago).

There are a lot of old school showman things about Reed (from Boston area) and his band the True Loves. Keyboard man doubling as MC, smiling drummer, muscular horn section, smooth bass player (sunglasses were the bonus), and Reed himself with a rockabilly haircut and suit-donning. Having a backing band like the True Loves makes you a contender because there are so many pieces that fit. The sound levels were all in check although they could have bumped up the saxaphones and other instruments as needed, but everyone was heard. Tight drumming and wild, shimmering guitar (he broke strings by the end, so you know he's not playin' around). Toward the end he took off his jacket, and the obvious pockets of sweat all over his purple shirt on this hot evening always makes a great statement. They are here to work us over with classic soul music. Does he hit you in the gut with every song? No. But hitting high points 4 or 5 times during the show is part of what soul is about; it's about a commanding presence instilling the righteousness of a higher being in ya. It's kind of like a really intense, goosebumps-inducing version of rinse and repeat.

There are many other things that I enjoyed about the show. The music, while people would say it's a derivative of classic soul that has been done better, is good but in a live setting it can be electric. It's the kind of music you really should experience live because the set up is so tried and true (which is part of why I love punk so much as well). Again, the fullness of the band shines and it's just so sweaty and not pristine and just pops so well. It's an old formula that still works beautifully no matter how much acts have evolved.

Reed's smiling, crooning, and screaming push the pace and makes the music something to root for. He's kind of like the young, boy-ish looking kid who could belt out tunes with his band on the corner on a hot summer day and would draw a crowd. That's the kind of heartfelt nature that you see on stage.

It's interesting that there is such strict devotion to his source music and influences, and there's a very pure feeling in the music even if it doesn't reach the top of the mountain with every tune. When they were on fire though and getting into call-and-response and shaking everything down, it was really a joy to watch and re-affirms that it's all about the live aspect to music, the sound coming from everywhere, the visual sweat, and little nuances that won't necessarily be found in a recording. I actually wouldn't have minded seeing a couple more covers to connect the audience even more and bridging the musical generations. However, I do understand that it's not about a revival, but about moving forward with a particular genre and making it new.

If you're interested Eli Paperboy Reed & The True Loves will be at The Bell House in Gowanus later this month on Saturday June 19.

Anywho, you can find his MySpace page filled with bio information and also a music video for "Come and Get It" from his new album of the same name which comes out in the US August 10 (already out in the UK, you know, where they understood soul probably as well as we did).

COME AND GET IT (Official Music Video)

Eli Paperboy Reed & The True Loves | MySpace Music Videos

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