Liquid Room, Edinburgh
My Little Red Book
Photos by: Keith Stodart and Marcel Eijgermans
Friday 23 August and Arthur Lee in Edinburgh. After 36 years I was eventually getting to see him. Unbelievable or what? (Still, it bucketed with rain all the way down from the Highlands so some things were constant.)
Lizzie B was motoring over from Carlisle with Ellie B and the plan was to meet them at the Liquid Room stage front left. Rosie D and I overheard a tall young lass asking for directions and followed her. "You look excited" she said and told us we wouldn't be disappointed (she'd been at Liverpool). Rosie D was now beginning to grasp why it was such a momentous occasion.
An amazing mix of people from 16 to 60s - all very friendly (and they let us squirm to the front). No support - Arthur and the band straight on at 8.30. Wow - Lizzie had said they were good but I was STUNNED. Arthur's voice is still full-on, the band superb and young Mike's guitar work amazing. Now if she'd asked me to write down what he played I might have managed it - but she didn't - so sorry guys.
I turned to the guy next to me after a couple of numbers and said "God they're ****ing brilliant". He asked if I knew the history (Liz et moi?!!) Then someone yelled out "Joan" and there was Oisin - I'd worked with him for 4 years in Geordie land and never knew we shared this obsession.
Well I'm sure you all know what he played - including 'Alone again or' (without a grimace). As I looked round I saw everyone grinning like maniacs at each other and near word perfect for the whole set. Arthur and the band looked as if they were enjoying themselves as much as we all were. I know some guy has said he wished they'd had an acoustic guitar but they didn't have the Tijuana Brass or a whole load of strings either and they still sounded amazing.
Lizzie arrived as they were into 'Stephanie knows who'. Road works.
She has said I looked dazed. Absolutely spot on. I was sure I'd never see him live and the reality was overwhelming. The atmosphere had been fantastic and Rosie D couldn't believe total strangers coming up and talking to us. And yes, I agree with the young lads from West Lothian, it was the best live gig I've ever been to, beating even The Who and Hendrix. (Oh and Ellie hasn't forgiven me asking her what she was doing in the 6th form thus giving her age away!)
No encores but the band came out afterwards and chatted away. Mike was charming - and I
told him how knocked out we were. Lizzie was totally shameless and sent Ellie to get
autographs (thanks Mike!). I met the tall young lass again and she said "You should
see your face!" Just glowing with sheer joy.
Thanks Arthur - can't make any other dates but see you next year. (And Rosie D really enjoyed herself too.)
A few thoughts after The Liquid Room, Edinburgh August 23. 2002
I first heard Love in 1969 when few people were lucky enough to actually own a record and the rest of us had to rely on their charity in playing them constantly while we waited for Forever Changes to be reissued.
Having read of Arthur's dislike of touring, I never expected to hear Love paying live, so it was a dream come true in 1970 to arrive in L.A. on a working holiday to find Love about to appear at "Thee Club" off the Sunset Strip. Earlier in San Francisco, I had checked out the Fillmore to see if they were going to be there,or failing Love, perhaps Quicksilver or Jefferson Airplane. What was their next show? Chicken Shack, Savoy Brown and Fairport Convention, all excellent but a long way to go to see three British bands! I bought a ticket anyway.
Getting to a Love concert was the high point of that summer and an experience I did not expect to repeat and when, in 1974, it was announced that Love were about to come to the University of Dundee, no one believed it. Much lesser bands such as the Pretty Things had failed to turn up on the day after deciding that playing Dundee was too much for their artistic integrity. The University Entertainment's Convenor had to repeatedly assure everyone that the band were definitely there, safely booked into the Angus Hotel. Another great night. Arthur told us he was only there for the money but nobody felt out of pocket. Who was the talented kid playing amazing bottle neck Fender Telecaster that evening?
Now 28 years later it has all happened again and, by 8.30 in the Liquid Room, Edinburgh, with the band's road crew starting to look seriously worried, I had the same old feeling that it might very well not happen again. Then, quite suddenly, there were figures on the stage, familiar music filled the room and thirty years or more disappeared in the bat of an eyelid. Arthur looked great, like his music immune to time and fashion. His band as good as any in the past. I would like to say better but would risk slighting some fine musicians not to even mention Jimi Hendrix.
Hopefully Arthur and his band enjoyed their Scottish tour and will return again, although perhaps not during the Edinburgh Festival when the availability of venues is limited. The Liquid Room is described in the Fringe Programme as "a great venue for atmosphere". This may be true if you want the authentic sixties' experience of standing, packed like sardines, in stifling heat and a haze of dope smoke with the ever present risk of someone tipping a pint of beer down your back. A wicked sense of humour was displayed by having no sign on the men's toilet and the door disguised to look like the walls. The Love Merchandise seller was trying to help by directing blokes through a different door but this unfortunately lead them out to the street, unable to get back in!