22 April 2007

Arthur Brown, 40 years on

The whole evening at the ICA was billed as "Freak Out, Ethel! An Evening of Musical Mayhem" but my reason for going was to see Arthur Brown (again).

The evening opened with Malcolm Boyle's one-man play, The Madcap, about Syd Barrett. This gave an interesting insight into the early years of Pink Floyd and was enhanced by some interesting interpretations of some of Barrett's songs.

Then came Circulus. The event's blurb called them "Britain's finest neo-medieval psychedelic folk-rock band", but I thought it was awful. Trying to mix all those themes just did not work and it was not at all clear what they were trying to be. The period costumes hardly helped.

Then came Arthur with a truly magnificent set. To merely list the songs, all of which are established Arthur Brown concert material, would not do it justice as the show was made by the dramatic, vigorous and enthusiastic performances by Arthur and regular musician Nick Pynn.

I was at the front of the stage by Nick and it was interesting, and awe inspiring, to see how the familiar string instruments played by hand were complimented by various boxes of tricks played with his feet. The was particularly obvious during his solo in The Devil's Grip (one of the songs Arthur played in the original concert 40 years ago). Nick went up enormously in my estimation, and he was pretty high up before.

Arthur, of course, was very much the focal point of the set and he more than lived up to expectations. His vocal range, volume and expression were as strong as ever, he pranced around the stage energetically and his facial expressions told the songs' stories as much as the words did. This was the best Arthur Brown performance that I've seen.

The final act were The Pretty Things about whom I knew little except for the songs covered by Bowie on Pin-ups, both of which were played. A bit hit and miss for me but the two straight blues songs were very good, particularly as Arthur Brown joined the band for the first of these.

There was also some good news from the guy on the merch stall with promises of more gigs with Nick to support the new acoustic album when it comes out and, sometime later, some gigs with Instant Flight to promote the DVD of the Astoria gig in 2005.

1 comment:

  1. This show sounded fantastic. I loved ever bit of it. The Pretty Things were sensational. And Arthur, well what can I say...? Spellbounding!

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