Royal Festival Hall, London
UK, January 15. 2003

Last Update: 03. oktober 2003

 

 


Seven & Seven Is
Orange Skies
My Little Red Book
Your Mind and We Belong Together
Signed D.C.
Robert Montgomery

Alone Again Or
A House is not a Motel
Andmoreagain
The Daily Planet
Old Man
The Red Telephone
Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale
Live and Let Live
The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This
Bummer in the Summer
You Set the Scene

My Flash on You
Everybody's Gotta Live
She Comes in Colors
Stephanie Knows Who
August
Always See Your Face
Listen to my Song
A House is not a Motel
Singing Cowboy
My Anthem

RFH, London January 13. 2003 Photo: Chris Jones

Photos by: Chris Jones, Keith Stodart and Dukie Anderson

The Flavour is in the Hole!!!

Well that's the set list, but inevitably seeing it in print like that really only tells half the story. The four members of Baby Lemonade came on first from stage right, led if I remember by Rusty Squeezebox. Then came Arthur himself to rapturous applause and people standing to cheer him on to stage center. He was wearing a black cowboy type hat, which soon was changed for a similarly-styled though broader-brimmed fawn coloured number. Under this Arthur wore a red and white bandanna around his head. He had a brilliant white shirt with tassels all down the sleeves, then jeans and what looked like white cowboy boots with brown toecaps. He looked fantastic and immediately sounded well on form as he greeted the crowd in a warm and amiable manner. In fact he maintained thisly manner all the way through the concert, which suggests he really enjoyed himself - I hope I'm right! There were lots of calls throughout the evening from the auditorium, many of which Arthur replied to with amusing quips.

RFH, London January 13. 2003 Photo: Keith Stodart A roady brought on his guitar, a white Fender strat., and placed the strap round Arthur's shoulders and this gave the band the cue to turn and, wow! suddenly there was the searing, pounding beat intro to Seven & Seven Is, and immediately we knew we were in for a fabulous evening. The sound seemed good to my, admittedly, ageing and jaded ears, and certainly an improvement on sound for the somewhat dull support band Draw earlier. The swing into action was so immediate, yet clearly the band were on song together with all four consistently giving Arthur everything he needed to complement his singing and playing through each song. The first number brought a standing ovation from an excited crowd, many of whom rose to their feet as they applauded, something which Arthur was to witness regularly as each number finished. That first set of six songs was pure pre-"Forever Changes" as the band played beautiful renditions of material off "Da Capo", before shifting forwards to a fabulous "Robert Montgomery" from "Four Sail", which for me was where started to lose their way. At this point, from stage right came the string and brass players and suddenly all that expectation, all that excitement that had begun with those first announcements that the whole thing was going to happen at all, all that heady adrenalin was there on stage and just waiting, waiting .
"Yeah, said it's alright ." Twenty-four hours on, and too exhausted to drive up to Oxford for tonight's gig, I am finding it hard to express how I felt as those oh-so-familiar notes trippled from the guitars into that expectant auditorium and now, yes, after thirty-five years, "Forever Changes" was happening here in London, and I'm there, my head, my ears, my eyes, my heart, to experience the sheer beauty of the band's creation as we move into the first of those eleven wonderful tracks. Then in came those shimmering strings perfectly, the trumpets and trombone, and I'm feeling parts of me trembling, yes trembling, with pure excitement and a joy that only ever this music has caused in me. It possibly wasn't perfect, there may have been an odd bum note and maybe once Arthur hit the wrong key, or needed a lyric stand, or the sound guys didn't have it quite right, but hey, wait, yes, for me, it was perfect, cos I missed those little things if they did happen. The more I think about what I experienced last night, the more I realize that this was the best concert I ever was at, because my experience was pure and wonderful, and also quite simply beautifully joyous.
Of that album, there was not a single flawed moment, and highlights are hard to pinpoint when every song is at such a high, but I guess "Old Man", really in Arthur's words afterwards "Bryan's song", showed me yet again why I have always d that song more than any on the album. But I stress that I was in heaven with every tune and I am so thankful that I saw and heard the songs delivered "live" so exquisitely.
At the conclusion of "You Set the Scene" I suspect mine were not the only eyes that had misted over, as the entire theatre rose to its feet and the applause just went on and on and on. It had, I suspect certainly surpassed what many may have expected after all this time, and Arthur's performance and that of all the musicians onstage had been exhilarating and exciting, every person contributing exactly what was necessary for such a perfect performance.

RFH, London January 13. 2003 Photo: Chris Jones

RFH, London January 13. 2003 Photo: Keith Stodart

What followed, though not up to the "Forever Changes" we had just witnessed, was still wonderful, a heady mix of more early stuff, alongside songs from "Four Sail" and "Everybody's Gotta Live" from "Vindicator". 
Having announced a "new song", Arthur's words faded into the sight of a clansman playing the bagpipes, and "My Anthem", as he called the new title. To be honest, by this time I may have been musically past caring as I had already seen something which I knew could never be surpassed, but reflection today has told me that the new song is a bit of a dud, even if the sentiments have their heart in the right place. So, no, I won't see Arthur, Bryan, Michael, Johnny, Ken and all those others that have played under that fabulous banner through rose-tinted spectacles, because whilst I'll always buy anything that has the group's name to it, for me, the golden period without any doubt saw them through to album four, and not a lot further. And as I said earlier, head and shoulders above any and all other musical creations, stands "Forever Changes". I used to believe, and I suppose I still do, that copies of "Forever Changes" should be available free to everyone on the National Health. Listening to it could make a lot of people feel a whole lot better and happier. Tonight I didn't need telling "You were so ly, you didn't have to say a thing " Arthur and Bryan, thank you, from deep in my soul, for producing a work of such beauty and to all those musicians who gave us tonight's fantastic, ly performance, also, thank you you I'll be following.

Graham Cole


RFH, London January 13. 2003 Photo: Keith Stodart

RFH, London January 13. 2003 Photo: Keith Stodart

Keith Stodart and David Housdon at RFH, London January 13. 2003 Photo: Dukie Anderson

Keith Stodart and David Housdon


RFH, London January 13. 2003 Photo: Richard Young

Ian Grant,  Track Records, The man himself, Legendary 60/70's DJ Jeff Dexter and Nick Laird-Clowes (Guitarist,Pink Floyd og David Gilmour colaborator)
Thanks to Rob Yates

Photo: Richard Young