The Moore Theatre was pretty packed New Year’s Eve for LeRoy Bell’s first concert since his appearance on The X Factor. If the audience was made up entirely of judges, he was certainly a winner with his soulful performance.
Bell made occasional mention of The X Factor (which he called “a show I’ll keep nameless”), providing the following insights:
- At the Key Arena audition (Bell is from Edmonds), he was told last-minute that he couldn’t use his backing track because it contained the briefest of vocals, so he had to sing his original a cappella. Afterward, judge L.A. Reid asked, “Do you do anything we know?” Bell then performed the chorus of “Lean on Me,” praying he didn’t have to go into the verses, which he couldn’t have done because “I don’t know other people’s songs.”
- He described his experience with The X Factor as a pregnancy, as it started back in the spring and just finished. He misses the constant 75-degree days of southern California, but is glad to be back to the mellow lifestyle of the Pacific Northwest.
- He laughed off the prevailing notion that he’s a postman who came back to music, explaining that he’s been a working musician through the years. Bass player Terry Morgan added that Leroy Bell and His Only Friends released five CDs in the past decade, and that “we’re not waiting for someone else to tell us what to do…we’re already doing it.”
When Bell asked how many people watched The X Factor, an audience member yelled “only because you were on it.” Much of the crowd clearly knew his music, calling out requests and cheering consistently. Bell’s voice rang clearest in his solo performance of “Mama Said,” but what surprised new fans (and might have bolstered his national support on The X Factor) was his energy while playing guitar and harmonica, as in the crowd-pleasing “How Many Times.”
Songs like that brought the young people (predominantly women) toward the stage to dance, and even some of Bell’s 60-something peers (okay, he’s just sixty, though you’d never know by his looks) to their feet.
Bell, who said he’s “usually asleep by midnight,” led the audience in ringing in the new year, and promised a return as part of a tour in 2012.
Here’s LeRoy Bell performing “How Many Times,” recorded live on the “Bob Rivers Show” on 95.7 KJR: