Live Review: Melvin Davis w/Jeni Lee Richey & the Great Tribulation. Friday, May. 6 at PJ’s Lager House


Legendary soul man Melvin Davis touched down in Detroit at PJ’s Lager House last night. The 69-year-old veteran packed the club and, by the end of the night, had the entire place rocking like the soul clubs of yore.  Prepping for his 17-date tour of Europe starting next month, Detroit’s Soul Ambassador and his crack backing band dug deep within his extensive repertoire of gorgeous tunes and blazed through them with enough furor to match a group twice their size and half their age.


Opening for Davis was Ann Arbor’s quartet Jeni Lee Richey & the Great Tribulation. They cruised through a set of achingly beautiful soul-tinged Americana. Lead singer and guitarist Jeni Lee Richey’s fiery voice soared as she ardently jammed out chords on her acoustic guitar.


Back by his band plucked from United Soul, Davis hit the stage clad in a viciously sly white and black three-piece suit and a mane full of curls. When the show was on its way, you couldn’t help but be in awe of towering soul man’s natural talent as a singer and his unmitigated showmanship. Between the songs he’d give snippets of the history behind songs like “I Don’t Want You” and “Find a Quiet Place”, and of his 50-year music career. And, with the help of his United Soul backing band, his tunes sounded as great as ever. In fact, they sounded in ways fresher via the garage rock veneer to the sound. But, isn’t garage rock basically just soul music with a fuzz pedal? Maybe. Maybe not. In any case, Davis’ set killed and everyone in sight was dancing their asses off as the band worked through his timeless tunes.