My Little Red Book
Just got back to L.A. after 3 days in Seattle. Arrived Saturday with my son and daughter and spent most of Saturday and Sunday at EMP. EMP is a musician's museum with incredible exhibits.
You can ride the "Funk Blast" which flies you around in your seat with James Brown, Bootsy and George Clinton. You can be "On Stage" in front of a simulated audience of thousands where you'll be photographed doing semi-karaoke versions of "Wild Thing", "I Love Rock -&- Roll" and "Twist -&- Shout". ("Semi-karaoke", because if you can really play your instruments they'll take off the trainer wheels.)
You can go to the "Sound Lab" and learn to play classic rock riffs on guitar, bass,drums and keys. You can jam with other people you meet there and for $10 record a CD. My kids recorded "Hey Joe" and the staff applauded them when they came out of the studio! My only complaint about EMP was that on Saturday it just got too damn crowded. The line into the Hendrix room was 20 minutes! But we went back Sunday morning and it was much mellower. The staff was real nice to us the whole time and they were all primed and psyched to have Love coming.
Arthur rolled into the hotel in his limo about 3 pm Sunday. Gene and the band were about ten minutes behind in their two vans. I had been without internet access the whole weekend, so I was shocked to hear about Vancouver! I can't understand how Arthur is treated like royalty in Europe, travelling with no problems between Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France, Holland, Spain, England and Ireland, and then the f**king CANADIANS won't let him in!?! I thought the Canadians were supposed to be our f**king friends!! Arthur was quite upset by all this and although he handled the situation with restraint and dignity, he's far too sensitive a soul to just let something like that roll off his back. So he was still feeling the pain on Sunday, more for his disappointed fans than for himself.
Around 7 pm Leon Hendrix and his lady friend/manager Dana showed up at the hotel and the four of us walked over to EMP for dinner. I had my camera and got some nice shots of Leon and Arthur in front of the museum and the Space Needle. (Yes I'll be uploading them soon.) Arthur was a little nervous to be playing at EMP. Leon said Jimi's spirit hovers over the museum, which didn't make Arthur any less nervous! But it was good to see that Arthur really was intent on putting on a great show and felt it was a special occasion.
EMP was totally professional and respectful of Arthur, ("Can I get you anything else Mr. Lee?") and their facilities were top- notch including a wide screen video view of the stage from the dressing room! The sound system sounded like "heaven" according to Mike Randle after the sound check, and the light show may be the best on Earth.
About 20 minutes before the show Arthur's first drummer, SNOOPY showed up! Snoopy lives in Olympia and drove down for the show. They hadn't seen each other in 20 years. Arthur invited Snoopy to play with the band - (more on that later!)
The show started promptly at 9:15. The setlist has been posted here already so I won't go into that, other than to say that Arthur skipped around within the setlist rather freely. Ultimately they played every song in the current repetoire except Que Vida.
Ok, my critique of the show. Musically I'm a perfectionist so I'm only going to give the show a 9 out of 10. I think that the combination of nervousness about the venue, the rather subdued crowd ("Damn it's so quiet in here you could hear a cat piss on cotton, make some noise y'all!") and most of all the Vancouver stress, made Arthur's voice a little tight during the first half of the set so that I wouldn't say he "nailed" the early most demanding songs like "Orange Skies" and "Andmoreagain".
But leaving aside my nitpicking, this really was a solid show and I hope it puts to rest all this ridiculous negativity about the S.F. show. I wasn't at Bimbos but give me a break people, this is ARTHUR LEE we're talking about! Whenever you go to an Arthur Lee show you should understand that NOBODY knows exactly what to expect. That's the risk you take! If you want everything safe and pre-programmed to perfection go see Tom Jones or Wayne Newton. But if you want the chance to view genuine spontaneous magic, the way Rock and Roll was meant to happen ON THE EDGE then you have to take your chances.
Also, somebody was saying that San Francisco of all places should have gotten a better show. I understand your sentiment, but the flip side of that is that San Francisco OF ALL PLACES should be more understanding of Arthur Lee and the daily struggle that is his life! After all that Arthur has been through, and then to come back and give such triumphant performances all over Europe, if he can't let his hair down and be a fuck up for one night in San Francisco, if he can't pretend to be Jerry Lee Lewis on a piano after the show in San Francisco, then where CAN he let himself go? Lighten up San Franciso! One bad show doesn't mean Arthur Lee is self- destructing. Eugene, Portland and now Seattle prove that. I can predict right now that Arthur is going to give two great shows in NYC and then top them both in Philadelphia before he leaves for Europe again.
Wow, this message is getting pretty long! I'll end it now with a little more about the Seattle show. Like I said, with Arthur NOBODY knows what is going to happen from second to second. In Seattle, back in the dressing room Arthur had invited Snoopy to play "with the band". Arthur asked him if he'd brought his drums and Snoopy described this rig he had out in his car which turned out to be kind of a street performer's one-man-band type of thing. Everybody was kind of nervous about how that would fit in with the band, but nobody was saying anything.
Well Arthur surprised everyone by waiting until AFTER the last number to invite Snoopy up onto the stage. Snoopy must have taken 20 minutes just to get his little rig set up. That pretty much killed any hope for an encore by LOVE, but realistically unless they were going to pull out one of the new numbers they've been working on (which I won't reveal now), the only song left was "Que Vida" which Arthur probably wouldn't have used for an encore anyway.
Only a few diehard fans were left by the time Snoopy actually began to play. I'll leave it to one of them to describe how they liked Snoopy's music.