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 🙂