Many artists will try to capture the immense amounts of energy and precision that their live shows offer and portray that on their studio releases. Usually folks will hear a band's release, and they have the undying urge to get out and see them live. Josh Kelley is doing the exact opposite...giving people such a good live show that they want to pick up his records and give them a listen. With tolerable studio releases, Josh has to live and die by his concerts. He has such amazing live shows that you feel the urge to go back and revisit the records he has produced, trying to do anything in your power to put yourself back at the physical location where you saw his outstanding live show. After seeing him live you will have a new-found respect for him and the music that he produces.
While his released material is solid, his live shows are phenomenal, absolutely amazing, and quite honestly mind-blowing. You would not think that there could be that much of a discrepancy between his written material and his live performances but you should know that with a band that resembles The Roots both sight and sound, Josh is able to step it up a few notches at his live shows. With such talented musicians behind him, and his light-hearted approach to the stage show, he makes sure that even though the crowd doesn't have much to move to with his slower sound, they are able to fully enjoy themselves because of the way he conducts himself on stage. Between songs he will poke fun at everyone from his band mates to his brother, and every time he cracks a joke, the whole crowd explodes with laughter which vastly adds to the overall experience of his shows.
The show started off with a jam intro with Josh sitting at his keyboard while curtains were pulled back slowly. After finishing the first song, and taking in the crowd's applause, Josh told the patrons of the HOB, "We usually get all jacked up and play songs too fast – we didn't do that did we?" to which the crowd responded with a very adamant "NO!" From then on the crowd and Josh had a very intimate atmosphere to share for the evening. While viewing from the even more intimate opera box stage right, a Kelley-fan named Tessa was all starry-eyed and mesmerized by the show that Josh and his band mates put on that night. The second song of his set, and one of the crowd's favorites, Josh played "Almost Honest' in which he mentions Chicago in the first verse – by far the loudest point of the night.
While Josh had flashy dressers standing behind him on stage, specifically the bassist, who looked like Lenny Kravitz in his GQ attire – his beige sportcoat with dark jeans, cowboy boots, braided hair, and dark sunglasses – Josh is still able to steal the show. Midway through the night's set, Kelley stops share something with the crowd..."With elevator music quality, I want my band to play "Just Say The Word.' This song was written after catching my younger brother Charles watching " The Notebook' at 2am, in the dark, all by himself." After a few chuckles, the Chicago fans were ready for Josh to get back to playing tunes. Towards the end of the song, the band got together and surrounded Josh's mic for an "a capella' session that lasted for a few times through the chorus. The crowd had a lot of fun helping Josh sing the next song...a cover of The Band's classic song "The Weight,' where the chorus of "Take a load off Annie, take a load for free" is repeated over and over. It is a song that most everyone knows and the crowd was able to aid Josh and the guys sing it loud and proud.
After having complications with his guitar when trying to start "Amazing,' Kelley ditched the guitar on the side of the stage and figured that he would explore the stage while singing one of the crowd's favorites. Next he would continue on with the beloved tune "Only You.' During which there was a short drum solo, followed by the crowd singing the chorus two times over as loudly as could be with a hint of leadership from Josh. After trying to leave for good, the band was pulled out from hiding after witnessing the raucous display of affection the crowd was showing. Kelley then started the next song sitting at this piano all by his lonesome, later to be joined by the rest of the band, and to finish an evening with his Chicago following.
So as Josh continues to tour and produce new records, I bet you will find yourself listening to those records a lot more frequently just to put yourself back at the live show where you last saw him.
- Beneath The Show
- Lover Come Up
- 20 Miles to Georgia
- 2 Cups
- Hard Times Happen
- Just Say The Word
- Home To Me
- The Weight
- Only You
- Stay Awake