The Pretty Things and Arthur Brown Newcastle Tyne Theatre 5th October 2002
When I was a kid, way back in 1968, I received some record vouchers as part of my Christmas present. Now lps were precious items in those days; I went to the local record shop and spent ages choosing which discs to spend my vouchers on. In the end I chose “Prophets Seers and Sages, the Angels of the Ages” by Tyrannosaurus Rex and “Crazy World of Arthur Brown”. Both good choices. A few months later I came across and bought a copy of The Pretty Things’ “S F Sorrow” in a second hand shop. I played those albums constantly on our new home stereo system. The Arthur Brown lp had such wonderful prog tracks as “Spontaneous Apple Creation”, “Child of My Kingdom” and (of course) “Fire” and “Fire Poem”, featuring Arthur’s manic soaring vocals and the late great Vincent Crane’s rich swirling Hammond organ. And S F Sorrow simply amazed me; with its rich mix of great pop hooks, R&B, and psych. “Baron Saturday”, “She Says Good Morning” and “Loneliest Person” were my favourite tracks.
I first got to see Arthur Brown live around 1973 at a Kingdom Come gig in Sunderland Polytechnic Wearmouth Hall. That concert was spectacular, and unlike anything I’ve ever see before or since. The show started with Arthur being tied to a large wooden cross in a simulated crucifixion, featured a massive brain being chased around the hall by the pope, and concluded with Arthur being dragged from stage in a straitjacket.
The first time I saw The Pretty Things live was at Sunderland Locarno, in January 1973. Their set at the time drew heavily from S F Sorrow and also included some of their classic 60s R&B singles. Phil May had the longest hair I had ever seen, and remains to this day one of our best rock vocalists and front men. I saw them a few times after that gig, supporting touring acts at Newcastle City Hall; once with Status Quo, and with a few other bands; exactly who I don’t remember, maybe Bad Company.
So some 30 odd years later, this gig at the Tyne Theatre teamed up two of my favourite acts. Arthur was as crazy and powerful as ever, and the Pretty Things played much of S F Sorrow, featuring a line-up which reunited many of the original band members. Arthur also joined The Pretty Things for a couple of songs. Arthur signed my ticket with a weird hippy third eye, and Phil May and the rest of The Pretty Things signed a reissue copy of S F Sorrow which was on sale at the venue. A great night. Oh and David came along with me and became a fan of Arthur and The Pretty Things that night 🙂
HRH Prog Fest Magna Centre Rotherham 6 April 2013
I won free tickets for the Prog fest at the Magna Centre yesterday, and drove down to Rotherham for this event with my mate Norm. The line-up was headed by Hawkwind, and featured a host of other prog-related acts including the Strawbs, It Bites, and Arthur Brown. We arrive at around 5pm just is time to catch Arthur Brown. Arthur is doing a great job of recreating the psych-tinged R&B which featured on his first album. His set is drawn largely from that album, and he fronts a new band of excellent musicians, including a great keyboard player and guitarist. He is also accompanied by a dancer, with whom Arthur engages in some crazy, comical moves. His voice is as strong as ever; the Crazy World lives on. After seeing Arthur and his Crazy World we nipped out to Ben and Jerrys in Meadowhall for a bite to eat, and returned in time to catch the end of It Bites’ set, including Calling All The Heroes.
The Magna centre is an intriguing venue for a rock festival. It is housed in a massive old steelworks, which in its day will have been at the heart of the Sheffield steel industry, and by day it is a visitor attraction showing the history of steelmaking. The festival took up much of Magna over this weekend with some festivals in one taking place: the Prog fest which was the reason for our visit and its companion AOR fest, both organised by HRH. Each festival had two stages: the Prog fest main stage was in the “Face of Steel” and stage 2 was in “Earth”. For the AOR fest the main stage was in the Big Hall, and the second stage was in “Fire”. Signing sessions took place in the “Fuel” restaurant: we headed their after It Bites, lined up and got a flyer signed by some of the members of Hawkwind (sadly Dave Brock did not come along 😦 ).
We then found our way to the strange little room, which was “Earth” at the other end of the venue, and watched a little of the acoustic Strawbs, before heading back to the “Face of Steel” for Hawkwind, who opened their set with my favourite “Master of the Universe”. It was really getting cold by now; the size of Magna, with massive high ceilings, means that it is probably impossible to keep warm now, although it will have been red hot in its day when it housed a furnace. Norm and I have experienced how cold it is before, when we went to see Hawkwind ay a fan club event a few years ago on a cold December night. We watched a little more of Hawkwind’s set and then decided to keep warm by moving around and visiting the AOR fest. The Main Hall was packed for Tesla who seemed an intriguing rock band. We then went up to “Fire” where we watched a couple of songs of Estrella. Then it was back round to Hawkwind again, passing “Earth” where Karnataka were playing. Hawkwind finished their set around 11pm with Damnation Alley from the Quark, Strangeness and Charm album. Hawkwind have been playing the entire Warrior at the Edge of Time album on their current tour, with dancers and light show. Apparently the stage at the Prog fest wasn’t big enough for the show, so Hawkwind decided to revert to a standard set. As it was getting late by the time Hawkwind finished and we had a two hour drive home we decided to pass on seeing Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash and heading for the M1 north. Got home 1am. The festival was fun, but the venue was FREEZING…..
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown Fibbers York 19 Oct 2012
Laura had expressed interest in seeing veteran psych crazy guy Arthur Brown, so last night we took a trip to York to see our hero perform in all his splendour at Fibbers Club. The current Arthur Brown show returns to the “Crazy World of” moniker and concept, and thus focusses on his early material, drawing heavily from the 1968 album of the same name. Arthur has put together a band of young musicians who authentically replicate the 60s sound, with swirling keyboards reminiscent of the late great Vincent Crane (courtesy of Lucyy Rejchrtova), and lots of fuzz and wahwah guitar (from Nona Gromniak). Jim Mortimer is on bass, and was also introduced as the musical director of Arthur’s latest project, and on drums is Samuel Walker. Arthur was accompanied at the front of stage by dancer Angel Fallon, who wore a series of bright different costumes throughout the show. We arrived around 8pm and said hello to Charlie who was doing the sound. The set was a mix of covers (Kites, Green Manalishi) and tracks from the early days (Devils Grip, Spontaneous Apple Creation, I Put a Spell on You). Quite a few of the other songs in the set sounded familiar to me, but I’m not able to put a name to them. Arthur was as manic as ever and in good spirits, having a bit chat to us all, and indulging in some crazy, silly dancing. The new show is very theatrical and Arthur and the band have obviously put a lot into creating it. It features lots of costume changes, and great dance routines between Arthur and Angel. The band took to the stage wearing quite spooky bird masks with massive beaks, which set the tone for a quite dark night. The set ended with Fire with Arthur going mad, and Angel in a splendid costume with a massive silver cape and a large crown-like hat. Arthur’s voice is really strong, with screaming very much in evidence; not bad for a guy who entered his 7oth year in 2012. The encore was a super version of The Animals’ Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood. The crowd loved it, as did Laura and I. Support act The Moulettes are worth a special mention. They were very different and quite unexpected, playing acoustic instruments: violin, cello, autoharp, bassoon; their music being a blend of folk and elizabethan. They reminded me a little of Blackmore’s night, and are certainly worth watching out for. Apologies for the grainy photo, I am really going to have to practice using my iphone camera.
Hawkwind and Arthur Brown Newcastle Academy Dec 19th
Will and I went to see this great double bill at the Academy last Saturday. Hawkwind are celebrating 40 years on the road, and Arthur Brown has been treading the boards for more than that.
We knew the gig was set to start early (the ticket said 6.30 start) so we left in plenty of time to make sure (we thought) that we were there to catch Arthur. We arrived at around 7pm and Athur was already on stage. He’s still a great showman with some mad dancing all over the stage, and great costumes including a sunflower. He did a wonderful version of Fire, backed by a guitarist and keyboard player.
A short break and Hawkwind took to the stage at around 8pm. They have obviously put a lot into this stage show. The lighting is super-psychedlic and the two girl dancers had endless costume changes, starting off as robotic androids, becoming grim reapers for Angels of Death, and transforming into sea creatures in another song. There were many more costumes changes, so many that I can’t remember them all! Hawkwind are playing better than ever these days, with Dave Brock and the band really seeming to enjoy themselves. The set was a mixture of old and new, including old favourite Silver Machine. A few more old favourites would have been welcome (I wanted Master of the Universe and Will wanted the full version of Space is Deep), but hey you can’t complain; its great that the band are still gigging and playing as great as this.
set list: (something like; may not be exactly right) : Lighthouse; Fahrenheit 451; Sentinel; Space is Deep (spoken); Angels of Death; Silver Machine; Green Machine; Wraith; Prometheus; Warriors; Magnu; Tide of the Century; You’d Better Believe It; Levitation; Right to Decide; Spirit of the Age; Encore: Hassan-i-Sahba
website Hawkwind: http://www.hawkwind.com/
website Arthur Brown http://www.arthurbrownmusic.com/
I hate print-out tickets