20 December 2009

Arthur Brown casts a spell

It was billed as a Hawkwind Concert with Arthur Brown in support but I would have gone to see Arthur opening for almost anybody, just as I went to see the dismal Def Leppard in June 2006 just because the Sensational Alex Harvey Band opened the show.

Fortuitous circumstances brought me to London early (OK, so it was the ballet) and with nothing better to do before the evening entertainment I joined the queue at 6:30pm and froze for half an hour to get the reward to a place right at the front.

Arthur came on promptly at 7:30 and started in the dark, and wearing a dark face mask, with a stirring rendition of Hard Rain that got the crowd on his side immediately; not that many of us needed any persuading. A familiar song sung with Arthur's familiar strength and texture but supported by unfamiliar musicians.

All the other times that I have seen Arthur in recent years he was ably accompanied by the multi-instrumentalist Nick Pynn but for the current shows he has Jim Mortimore on guitar and drums, and Steve Watts on keyboards sitting either side of him.

The keyboards in particular helped to make the sound richer, fuller and more redolent of the late sixties. The interpretations were not necessarily better that those with Nick but it was refreshing to hear old songs done in new ways.

The rest of the set continued along more familiar lines with songs like Spell on you and Fire. I was also delighted to hear the Victim of love, from his latest album, that slowed the set down nicely in the middle.

Arthur supplemented his great singing with some costume changes (which usually included taking one pair of trousers off to reveal another pair underneath!) and some exaggerated dancing that drew loud cheering from the audience.

But the costumes and dancing were little more than small cherries on the large cake that is Arthur's powerful and dramatic singing voice that enriches any song.

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