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Lee brings breath of fresh air

MGM Music Hall at Fenway, Boston, May 21, 2024

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

In this day and age when so many concerts seem to be just so from backing films to lighting to the set list being cast in concrete, Amos Lee was a big breath of fresh air.

This was one organic show demonstrating that the Philadelphia singer/songwriter wasn't all about the hits (he's had some of them typically on the AAA chart, but he was far from an artist seemingly concerned about getting his next hit).

Lee was an engaging, confident performer with a lot of songs that were well crafted. He would not be accused of being commercial either ("Carry You On," which, like others, was well put together and heartfelt).

Lee found his way across a variety of musical styles. He could be soulful, rootsy, singer/songwriter and rock. That's not to say he was a musical chameleon without any sense of self, even if he is a musician with eclectic tastes.

He certainly wasn't afraid to talk, relating how he had talked with his therapist that afternoon. Nor was he overly serious. Apparently a sports fan (presumably of Philly teams), Lee spotted a fan at the front sporting a jersey of Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum. He did not "like" that and threatened to call security.

Lee certainly benefitted from his most excellent band, and he made it clear that he appreciated the band. They certainly made the songs – and, therefore, Lee – sound really good.

Lee deserved credit also for encouraging his band mates to play out. He gave lots of musical space to each and every band member numerous times throughout the 105-minute show.

Standing in the back, Mandy Ferr, one of two guitarists, was a captivating shredder with the highlight being her play on "Flower." Lee showed his dexterity here as well by incorporating part of "Moon River." It worked just fine.

Bassist Solomon Dorsey, alternating between electric and upright, had a vocal turn on the soulful "Violin."

Here and elsewhere, Lee would close his eyes, shake his head with approval and smile as his band took off.

And when he felt like changing up the set list, he very quickly pivoted from whatever was supposed to be the next song to "Black River" where everyone in the band had a vocal and Ferr, in particular, let loose vocally.

Interestingly, Lee completed ignored his last two releases – tributes to Chet Baker and Lucinda Williams. Too bad because there was a lot to like there.

No matter though. Lee did just fine culling this show from eight other releases and a nice cover of Bill Withers' "Grandma's Hands" with opener Pratt helping out.

From Lee to his band to his songs, this was one free-flowing, enjoyable show. If only Lee could be a trendsetter.

Pratt opened with a satisfying 25-minute set that showed off her most excellent vocal abilities. She was one fine singer, but Pratt, also a Philadelphia native, could have used more sonic diversity.

Pratt, who just released her major label EP debut, performed a lot of slower-paced songs, except for closing song, "Breathing for One," which showcased a lot more musical energy. Chances are at only 23, Pratt is still finding her voice.

Pratt came off as a warm, friendly, upbeat performer – even if her songs are not. Let's put it this way. Her EP is called "Family Feud" – with reason. Honesty serves her well.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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