Bowery Ballroom, New York
Setlist scan from Howard Forbes
My Little Red Book
Review from Thomas Adams:
My girlfriend and I flew from New Jersey to California to see Arthur at the Knitting Factory since it was the only show scheduled for the US at that point in time. Based on how incredible Arthur and band were at that show, I was really excited to hear about the Bowery shows in New York. The place was great, it had a nice dimly lit bar (not too crowed either) downstairs with $5 import beers which is as inexpensive as it gets in NYC. The ballroom was located up a flight of stairs and was small (500 capacity). I love seeing bands at these small places. I also donīt try to get as close to the stage as possible since I really donīt like being smushed amongst a pack of bodies. It makes it hard to get a beer and use the bathroom. There were small balcony areas up top which I think were reserved for people. Unlike the Knitting Factory, which appeared to be a newer structure, the Bowery Ballroom was an old building.
Saturday night Arthur came on at approximately 10:15 wearing a tan/white cowboy hat, under which was a red, white and blue bandana, the black shirt with sequins and playing cards on the chest, and blue jeans. Arthur explained that he had a slight case of laryngitis before the opener of My Little Red Book. Despite the fact that it could be said that he sounded slightly better at the Knitting Factory, he sounded great, and there was no loss overall in his performace as a result. The most obvious thing about the music was that the band has improved a lot. Baby Lemonade was incredible in L.A. in May, but they were tighter and more gelled than before. Mike Randle, who explained to me after the show that he hadnīt been playing for two (2) years prior to the Knitting Factory gig, was more than exceptional as was Dave Chapelīs bass. Dave had that awesome bass sound down that you hear on the bass solo on "My Flash on You" on the first album. People were really into the show and Arthur was smiling and very animated. He would act out the words with his hands to many of the lines he was singing, pointing to someone "sitting on the couch" in the balcony and making machine gun gestures at "I recognize your artillery" during Red Telephone". I also think he was crossing his eyes when he sang "look in my eyes!" He had the whole room shouting "Freedom!" at the end of the song as well, which was very fun and powerful. The only thing that wasnīt totally positive about the performance (and not really Arthurīs fault) was at one point, near the third-quarter of the show, Arthur got very upset at someone who was apparently videotaping his performance. He angrily told the people "donīt try to steal my shit!" and then said "you know what, you two leave, get out!" as he stood in front of them, his long arms waved upwards towards the back of the room. It was a scene that threw off the good vibes for a moment. The two didnīt leave however and Arthur sang a couple of dedicated lines to them with a sarcastic smile. August was unexpected, appreciated, and it shook the rafters with Randle peircing the night with splintering solos throughout. The new blues song was a true mississippi-type blues song that appears to be an original. Hope it appears on the new album! Overall, a very exciting and memorable performance. After the show Arthur did not emerge to sign autographs. When Mr. Lee did finaly try to exit the bar quietly around 12:45, one guy managed to acquire an autograph from a tired-looking Lee, who was quickly excorted out by Manager Gene Kraut. After the performance he gave, I feel, Arthurīs responsibilites are complete.
Sunday sold out as well. I ordered a beer from the bar and talked with a gentleman about our connections to Love music. This guy got into Love in 1974, but tonight would be his first show. I told him I wish I was him tonight! There was a guy wearing a sleeveless "Fastway" T-shirt at the bar! I felt like asking him if he knew where he was. The Sunday show as not quite as good as the previous night. I think the crowd was a lot more subdued and the energy demand wasnīt as great. I stood next to some deadbeats for a good part of the show who just stared. I met a guy later named Damian and he and his girlfriend were totally into it and I enjoyed the last couple of songs with them. The night produced the best "You Set The Scene" I have heard so far and Arthurīs harmonica on "Signed D.C." was absolutely mesmerizing. The band brought the music to powerful moments at several times during the show and Mike Randle was forging the furnace as he was the night before. August and Singing Cowboy were perfect with Arthur pointing at varying people in the audience..."am I coming through to you?", replied by fans singing "yoo-hoo!". Late in the show Arthur speaks and says "Everybodyīs talking about, who is he, Bruce Springsteen", "They say he is the boss or something like that?...man suck my d*ck!". You gottaī hand it to Arthur, he has a set of brass ones. He had me laughing very hard, though! Again, Arthur also pointed someone out saying "I like the way this guy looks at me, Iīve gottaī hand it to him, I canīt tell if you like me or if you think I suck"..or someting close to that. I guess the guy then gave Arthur a thumbs-up because Arthur said "Oh" with a nod as he repeated the gesture back. You can see the tough side of Arthur sometimes during his performance and it should be expected since he did survive six years in jail and hasnīt exactly had an easy life. I would like to see him not getting upset during the shows, but it really reminds you that he is a human and a passionate one at that. Thanks Arthur for two (2) great shows. Come back soon!
Review from Christina Crocker:
August 10, 2002 at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City was a night many of us will
never forget as it marked the triumphal return of Arthur Lee to the Big Apple. Arthur came
out in a snazzy black country western shirt with a cowboy type of hat and American flag
scarf over his head. He was in great spirits, smiling and looking very happy. Arthur said
that he had a case of laryngitis, but that it wasnt going to stop them, and it
certainly didnt. His voice still packed a wallop, powerful yet poignant. He started
the show off by ripping into "My Little Red Book," and then sang a mellowing
"Orange Skies." Arthur introduced "Your Mind and We Belong Together"
by saying "this is the last song by the original Love group." This song
demonstrated the full range of Arthurs voice, at times Beatlesque, part Johnny
Mathis, and operatic as well. There was plenty of excellent guitar work which continued in
the next song, "Live and Let Live." When Arthur sang "Served my time,
served it well", the audience erupted into applause for that meaningful phrase.
Next came two of the most beautiful songs ever written, "Alone Again Or" and "Andmoregain." I cant even describe what it was like to hear "Alone Again Or" performed live, its just such an amazing song. Bathed in a blue light for most of the song, Arthur reached new heights of emotional intensity during "Andmoregain," his voice soared and carried the audience into pure ecstasy.
Arthur provided a haunting harmonica sound for "Signed D.C.," then totally switched gears for the high octane "7 & 7 Is." The band pumped out a ferocious tempo, and then changed the mood again for "Between Clark and Hilldale" which Arthur introduced by saying something about how he went from the cage to the stage until this last cage.
Arthur introduced the "Red Telephone" by saying that its some sort of oracle. When Arthur got to the line "Look in my eyes," he removed his hat and bent his head down towards the audience and proceeded to bulge and roll his eyes as if in a hypnotic daze, and then broke into a sly smile. The color of the day was "paint me charcoal."
After the incredible "Daily Planet" came the masterpiece, the magnum opus "You Set the Scene" with the haunting bass lines done to perfection by Dave Chapple. Arthur got so into the emotions of this song that after the line "I see your picture, its in the same old frame, we meet again," he chuckled and said "Bitch!" I guess that he was referring to an old girlfriend maybe!
After the magnificently done "Stephanie Knows Who" and "My Flash on You," Arthur experimented a little with his guitar on a Delta blues type of number that I think was called "Ill Get Lucky Some Sweet Day," which had such lines as "Goin down in the South though raised up in the West" and "I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee, excuse me people my name is Arthur Lee." He then did a couple of lines of "Always See Your Face" and I think that he said something about forgetting the song. He then said that he was going to try something out that he had never done with the group before, he had heard some requests for it. The group then proceeded to rip into "August" which hasnt been done before on this tour. This version was fresh, energetic, and perfectly done, I was so honored that they picked NY to be the first place to play it.
"Que Vida!" was done very well, complete with popping noises . The band was able to replicate Snoopys organ sound almost to a tee with their guitars, they really captured the sound and mood of the original recording. Before "A House is Not a Motel," Arthur said "Mr. Robert Plant has been keeping this song alive while I have been away, or locked up tighter than a sack of gorilla nuts!"
At the end, Arthur said that it was a pleasure playing in NY, and asked "Do I need an encore, thank you very much for the encore." At this point, a woman with a video camera was really bothering Arthur and he had enough. Directing his fury towards the woman, he says "For the last song of the evening, I just said that the name of it was Singing Cowboy and Bitch dont touch my shit, dumb Bitch. Do you have any film left in the camera? Dont start that now." He then told the woman with the video, "Get out of here, both of you, get out of here!" He then proceeded into an especially spirited "Singing Cowboy," almost a little ferocious sounding as Arthurs anger came out in his singing, especially as he accented the "say goodbye, BYE," as if he was directing the "bye" towards the couple who irked him with the video camera. It was very insensitive for that person to have been videoing Arthur like that, it was very blatant, she was right up in front in his plain sight. Hes a very private person so its very rude for people to be shoving camcorders in his face without having his permission. So come on Love fans, be true fans and let Arthur do his thing without having his show interrupted by insensitive people trying to videotape his every move. It disturbs not only Arthur, but the flow of the show as well.
I do want to point out though that other than this incident, the crowd was very good, everyone seemed to be really into the music and cheered on Arthur and the band throughout the show. I have been to other NY concerts where I literally feared for my life due to people fighting with each other and pushing so much that I thought that I was going to be crushed to death. I didnt see any of this at the Love show, everyone was so mesmerized by the terrific music that all was peaceful.
Arthur really seemed to enjoy himself during the concert, he appeared very at home on stage. He was smiling and dancing, and got along very along with the rest of the band. At one point, Arthur, Dave and Rusty all hugged each other simultaneously, it was so nice to see the group really gelling like that.
I want to thank Arthur and the rest of the band for one of the best concerts that I have ever been to, and Im not exaggerating. I have seen many concerts and this definitely ranks as one of the best. Arthur was so enthusiastic and energetic, he can run rings around the other groups that are around today, he puts them to shame. And the rest of the band, Mike Randle, Rusty Squeezebox, David Green, and Dave Chapple are all outstanding musicians, they really have it together, great work guys! Arthur and the rest of the band are in such top form right now that they might actually save the pathetic music industry, they are the best group around today. The music world badly needs an injection of enthusiasm, intelligence, intensity, musicianship, and creativity, all of which Arthur Lee and Love have plenty of. Im looking forward to the new album and the groups next visit to NY. Thank you Arthur, Mike, Rusty, David, and Dave!
Review from Don Cohen:
Arthur Lee returned to New York for the first time since 1994 at the Bowery Ballroom last night and elektra-fied the sold-out crowd for 105 minutes with favorites mainly from the first three Love albums, with a few surprises thrown in. Dressed in boots, jeans, a blue cowboy shirt, a stars and stripes bandana worn Little Steven style and a straw cowboy hat, Lee looked great, every bit the rock star.
Claiming he had a touch of laryngitis, Lee tore through 20 songs in pretty damn good voice, though there were some flat notes and an occasional high note he backed off from. No one cared -- his voice's power and control is still there, soaring above a terrific supporting cast in Baby Lemonade, particularly Mike Randle's slashing lead guitar work. Time clouds memory, but to me he sounded about as good as 32 years ago when I first saw him at the Fillmore East, second billed to the Dead (the Allman Brothers opened). All that was missing was the Joshua Light Show. (When I saw him at Tramps in NYC in 1994, I brought along the original Fillmore playbill, which he signed, smiling with typical Arthurlynarcissisticgrandiosehumor, "The Grateful Dead? Who are they? I shoulda been top-billed!)
Lee is back after six years in the slammer, a period in which reports say he didn't write any songs. He only directly mentioned his incarceration once, in his intro to "A House Is Not a Motel," he joked, "Here's a song Mr. Robert Plant is keeping alive (he's been performing it live), while I was away, locked up tighter than a sack of gorilla nuts." But earlier his sentiments came through loud and clear in "The Red Telephone," first with his menacing, deadpan lyrics, "They're locking them up today/ they're throwing away the key/ I wonder who it will be tomorrow/ you or me?" Then, in the coda, unleashing his hellhounds, shouting over and over, "Freedom, freedom, we want our freedom" as the crowd chanted along with him. Father Springsteen would have been proud.
Lest you think this was all too serious, Lee could crack up the place, too. In "You Set the Scene," he sang, gazing longingly at his outstretched palm: "I see your picture/ it's in the same old frame/ we meet again.....Bitch!"
Lee's songs, particularly in "Forever Changes" have a curious affect as they mix apocalyptic visions with words of hope and redemption. The tortured soul who isn't so crazy that he can't step back, laugh at himself and smile at the gods. Jac Holzman once said of Lee, "Arthur was, and perhaps still is, one of the smartest, most intelligent and finest musicians I have ever met in my entire career of making records. As large as his talent, however, was his penchant for isolation and not doing what was necessary to bring his music to the audience (referring to Arthur's reluctance to travel to promote the music). His isolation cost him a career. Which was a shame because he was one of the few geniuses I have met in all of rock 'n' rolldom." I think the crowd last night would agree that based on his performance, we hold out hope for his rising and for the Phoenix story in all of us right about now.
This surprise little solo blues ditty kind of summed it up.
It may have been improvised or a thread of a new song, I don't know it (has anyone heard this one before?):
Born down in the South
Raised up in the West
?Life is tough?
I''ll get lucky
Some sweet day
I come from Alabama
With a banjo on my knee
Excuse me people.
But my name is Arthur Lee
I'll get lucky
Some sweet day
AUGUST 10 at the Bowery Ballroom: The day has a sort of surreal quality in my memory
and I recall at the time, as I entered the Ballroom, being fearful that somehow, this
momentous occasion was not going to actually happen. When I saw Mike Randle at the bar
however, I was assured. Had a few beers at the downstairs bar and observed and spoke with
some Dylan maniacs who had a vinyl bootleg of the 1992 Toad's place rehearsal show. Nice
way to start the evening! Next, snagged a black t-shirt at the souvenir stand and
proceeded up to the second level for the show.
Let me preface by saying I have been to many, many concerts and seen many of the greatest performers of our time (Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Joey Ramone, Lou Reed, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, and many others, but just to name a few of the bigger names) and never have I experienced a show quite like this. This was tantamount to John Lennon returning from the dead to play Madison Square Garden. Unless you have been listening to Love albums for an appreciable amount of time and unless you had never seen Arthur Lee in the flesh, you cannot imagine how amazing it was just to see him walk out on to the stage! And then to hear his voice sound so clear and true (even after hearing he had laryngytis and hearing him confirm it from the stage). And the band was spectacular! After about 2 hours of show, after the energy in the room threatened to blow the roof of the building, after seeing the best rock and roll show we could ever hope to see, and above all, after Arthur Lee exceeded all of our highest expectations, we spilled out into the night in stunned amazement, almost unable to articulate in any organized fashion, our feelings about what had just happened. The best we could do was to utter phrases like, "That was fucking amazing!"
Since then, I have tried unsucessfully to explain to the general public in a few short phrases what it was like, all the time knowing that it was impossible to come close to doing the show justice. When a performer as uniquely charismatic and spectacular plays music as unique as that made by LOVE, what do you use as a point of comparison? There is only one thing to do: buy the music, live it, learn it, and then go see them again when they return (with a new album)!!! I cannot wait!
John W. Harding