Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed triumphs at homecoming show

A review of Eli 'Paperboy' Reed and The True Loves at the Middle East Downstairs on March 11,

, Contributing Writer

Eli “Paperboy” Reed and The True Loves took the stage at the Middle East Downstairs on Wednesday night to kick off their U.S. tour. Wowing the crowd with hits from their debut album Roll With You as well as showcasing songs off of their forthcoming album, the 2008 BMS Band of the Year put on a show that had the crowd wanting more but definitely thrilled with what they got.

The True Loves took the stage to Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher” as Ben Jaffe, tenor sax player and official MC, introduced Reed to the eager crowd. Although the room was not at capacity it was a good turnout for a Wednesday night, especially considering that U2 was in town, and Reed played the room like it was a stadium. Kicking off the night with full sound and high energy, Reed segued right into his hits with “Stake Your Claim”, which had a nice balance between his James Brown style wailing and a softer more stripped down vocal. “Am I Wasting My Time” followed, sounding exactly as it plays on the album with a bit more obvious showcase of Reed’s vocal as the band played with less intensity for portions of the song.

Telling the crowd that it was nice to be home, the Brookline native took a moment to introduce his sizable band before starting a rendition of “I’m Gonna Getcha” that had the crowd dancing and singing along. Slowing down the tempo was “It’s Easier”, one of Reed’s favorite songs from the album and one of the more melodic offerings so far. “I’m Gonna Break Every Heart I Can” allowed the band to show a bit of a country inspired flare and depart from their otherwise consistent soul throwback sound.

Introducing his next song by saying it comes from one of the best albums to ever come out of Boston, Reed covered Frank Lynch’s “Young Girl”, which was one of the highlights of the show. This song was impressive because it was simple; it lacked the showmanship and swagger we’re used to seeing from Reed but didn’t compromise on talent.&

Reminding the crowd that they’re working on a new album hopefully to be recorded in the summer and released in the fall via Virgin/EMI records, Reed took a few minutes to introduce a few new songs. They started with “Time Will Tell”, written by Reed and guitarist Ryan Spraker and a song less James Brown and more pure Eli Reed than the majority of the songs on Roll With You. “Name Calling”, which will be the first single off the new album, was more upbeat and focused on the progression of a relationship. With lyrics like “You went from name calling to calling my name” coupled with the reaction of the crowd, this one is sure to become a fan favorite.

Speaking of fan favorites, Reed took a break from the new stuff to get the crowd dancing with “The Satisfier” before the final new song of the night “Come And Get It”, a tune that featured fast paced vocals that you can’t help but clap along with. Getting back to the hits, Reed closed out his set with “Am I Just Fooling Myself” and “Take My Love With You”, the latter becoming an extended version that wavered between all out intensity and “preaching” style interplay between Reed and the crowd.

After leaving stage for about two minutes Reed and bass player Mike Montgomery reappeared to begin “I’ll Roll With You” as the rest of The True Loves took their positions. Thanking the crowd for the “best homecoming we could have had” Reed closed the night with “(Doin’ The) Boom Boom”, with “soul-clapping” from the audience and unparalleled energy from the band.
Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents were the perfect compliment to Reed and The True Loves.

Opening the night with soul sounds reminiscent of the 1960s and girl group choreography to match, the set started with “Keeping Time” and featured songs like “Let Me Go” and a great cover of& “Shake Some Action”. Their theatrical delivery and pop-infused soul sound kept the audience entertained and set the tone for the rest of the night.

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