Up, San Diego,
Arthur Lee & Love at the Belly Up
Historic perspective (personal) -
Having grown up in Southern California during the 60's I became a Love fan the first time I heard "My Little Red Book" on the radio. At that time San Diego radio took their programming queues from LA radio so we all heard the LA bands.
The venue (The Belly Up Tavern - Solana Beach, California) -
For a long time the Belly Up has been one of the best live venues in San Diego County. It holds several hundred people. The sound system has been upgraded multiple times. The sound is consistently clear and can support any thing from folk to punk. Vocal reproduction is always excellent. I've been to many great performances there.
The show -
The warm-up act was a member of the LA band, The Negro Problem, who played acoustic guitar with a single back-up musician. The songs were of odd topics with one being a discussion of Barbie's friend Ken and his sexual thoughts. This is worth a mention only because Arthur stood stage left during the set and was obviously enjoying the tunes.
After that Love quickly took the stage and plugged in. I don't know how to really convey in words what I experienced over the next 90 minutes. From the opening song ("7 & 7 Is") through the three-song encore ("My Flash On You", "August", "Singing Cowboy") I was riveted. I shook. I danced. I jumped up and down. This was without a doubt one of the greatest rock and roll shows I'd ever seen. The band was so tight. The summer tour had really pulled the group together musically. The vocals were absolutely outstanding. This is a show that cannot be missed. I can only hope there will be a live album in the future. There was very little of the on-stage patter that I've read Arthur can fall into during a "tough" set. He did make a comment about his preference for being on the road with just his band. This was in reference to an upcoming "Forever Changes" tour with "orchestra". I had to agree with him. The songs from "Forever Changes" blazed with the arrangements used that night. Nothing was left out. It was all guitar instead horns and strings. I now find the instrumentation on the album somewhat weak and overproduced.
& Arthur smiled. The man smiled the whole, damn night. There was a grin on his face that stayed there from start to finish.