'I was invited to see The Elizabeth Fields Collective in concert and to be dead honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew that Elizabeth Fields was a top singer and guitarist as I'd seen her play a solo show, but I'd heard so much about this group with her on stage called 'The Collective'. My task was to see this collective and report to Ryan's Gig Guide and work out exactly what it was.
Starting the evening off was the supporting artist, the singer songwriter called Reece Page, who gave a nice honest performance. Listening to him with my eyes closed I picked up a very Joe Cocker kind of vibe. His music is a window looking into his own life, very melancholy, very personal and meaningful lyrics. Although his work is of a minor sounding nature he comes across as quite jolly. My suggestion to him would be to make his guitar work barker and as creative guitar-wise as his great lyrics. Overall very well done.
Okay, the main act was about to come on and to my surprise (even though I should have guessed this really as I'd read the press release beforehand) nine people walked on to the stage and began to set up. First of all that's a lot of people on any stage and I knew that this was going to go either one of two ways. Damn, I can't be arsed with creating a build-up or tension... they sounded fucking amazing! Elizabeth Fields is an incredible performer, singer and songwriter and you can tell that she really enjoys what she does. Elizabeth vocally is like a female version of Seal. 'The Collective' as she refers to, are the musicians who join her on stage and they all work together so well to create a unique mellow, but sometimes loud and bluesy wall of sound.
The audience got a mix of classic jazz and blues and some wonderfully impressive original songs. All throughout the gig Liz is a star, but she doesn't overshadow the other musicians because, for the main reason, that they are all too good to ignore. I feel bad suggesting they are 'backing', this is a group of musicians all taking turns to work with each other, swapping, improvising where appropriate, having fun and sounding like the true professional musicians that they all are.
The song 'Speak in Sympathy' was particularly impressive and featured great playing by Saxophonist Odel Millen. Hang on a sec, let me rephrase that. Odel has got to be one of the best Saxophonists i've seen play in years. His chops could knock out Jason Statham with one note. This guy could probably make a mobile phone sing if he started playing with the buttons on it.
There was a lot of talent playing in this show and you really need more than a page to talk about each member of The Collective as they are all great for different reasons, kind of like a jazz version of The X-Men. The J-Men maybe?
As an act, this is overall great musicianship and deep jazz and blues performed with passion. The Collective certainly work together and the crowd loved it. It's a great show and you know from watching them only once that they couldn't possibly have bad shows as the combined team effort is a constant. Singers such as Dulcie Phoenix and Dell Millen, and Pianist Robin Hill were all powerful in style. Oh, and how could I not mention the most impressive bass playing ever too, I was glued to the stage, I didn't unfortunately catch the bass players name but he was a bass monster. Wonderful playing.
The tune 'Season With Good Reason' was an original of theirs and gave Dulcie Phoenix room to show to show her talent off in amazing class, she's an operatic version of Sade I think, but I'm sure others, or more jazz-minded folk, could think of better artists to compare her with than my suggestions. From what I understand there are different numbers of members of The Collective for different sized venues, they can do stadium and small venues.
'What Goes Around Comes Around' by Lenny Kravitz was a pleasure to hear as the members of The Collective swapped instruments and changed places to make this an almost new looking band but still maintained the same wonderful texture of sound to give the tune an amazing feel. There was also a Stevie Wonder rendition, a lot of original numbers and sheer talent all night long. Now I know why Elizabeth Fields is a top name, she and the musicians she surrounds herself with have the ultimate music formula and it all works so well. Elizabeth Fields in my opinion is like the jazz world's version of Madonna but without all the controversy, and she plays guitar with a hell of a lot more technique.
My Verdict: Elizabeth Fields and The Collective is a superb night out and you'd be hard pressed to complain. This is a great mix of musicians, if you disagree then you're an idiot. See them all live and see for yourself.