UK, January 17. 2003
Last Update: 03.
7 & 7 Is
My Little Red Book
Your Mind And We Belong Together
Alone Again Or
A House Is Not a Motel
The Daily Planet
The Red Telephone
Between Clark And Hilldale
Live & Let Live
The Good Humor Man..
Bummer In The Summer
You Set The Scene
My Flash On You
Everybody´s Gotta Live/Instant Karma
She Comes In Colors
Always See Your Face
Listen To My Song
Well, we'll give it a try, but is this just a moneymaking stunt to support
Mr. Lee in his retirement, based on relieving a few hundred aging ex-hippies of
15 quid or so ? One fears the worst, particularly as no other member of the
constantly changing 'Love' lineup is involved in the show. In fact the 'rock'
element of the band are apparently from an outfit called 'Baby Lemonade', none
of whom can have been born when 'Forever Changes' was recorded in 1967.
The demographic profile of the audience doesn't seem to confirm these fears,
though - most are in their twenties or thirties. Maybe they're here to see the
support band - Draw or Drawer or something. Watching the start of their set,
this seems unlikely, although the singer gives a gracious compliment to Love -
'we see them every night for free - the strings are amazing'.
In Love's heyday it would have been customary to build up tension before the set
by making the audience wait for four hours listening to Barclay James Harvest or
Soft Machine over the PA whilst roadies with shoulder-length hair nailed down
the drum kit and 'one-twoed' into the mikes. These are more civilized times, so
apart from the long-haired roadie (where do they get them from ?) a mere
half-hour suffices. The rest of the band shamble on and wait respectfully until
a cowboy hatted, sunglass wearing Mr. Lee enters to ecstatic applause. No
preliminary announcement; it's straight into a frenetic 'Seven and Seven Is'
from the 'Da Capo' album. At the false ending, applause crashes the reflective
coda - who hasn't done his homework, then? Again no announcement; on into
'Orange Skies', redolent of Spanish Colonial Los Angeles (or at least the way we
imagined it in Doncaster !).
Mr. Lee has played a few tentative chords throughout these first two pieces, but
now relinquishes his guitar in favour of (successively) a pair of maracas and a
tambourine. Throughout the performance the guitar is constantly returned for
retuning, provisionally accepted again, then rejected once more with a frown and
a shake of the head - it's a fascinating addition to the stage act, one I
haven't seen used to such an extent before. Another ploy is for Arthur to retire
to the back of the stage to rebutton his shirt, returning without his
tambourine, which then has to be collected (to further applause). He's a real
showman, this one.
Two or three more from the earlier days, including Bacharach and David's
"Little Red Book', then - hold your breath - 4 violins, a 'cello, two horns
and a trombone arrive to enhance the lineup, and we're in 'Forever Changes'
mode, starting with an astonishing version of 'Alone Again Or'. This is
virtually note-perfect, shimmering strings, tempo changes and all, spoilt only
slightly by the sound desk's error in fading in the solo trumpet too late. Three
ecstatic minutes later, as the last notes die away, there's a call from the
audience; 'Play it again'. Me too, but Arthur presses on into 'A House is not a
Motel' and 'Andmoreagain', each a faithful copy of the album track. And this is
something we were never treated to in the 'sixties; it just wasn't 'cool' for a
band to play what their audience wanted to hear. No drum solos, no
excruciatingly long guitar excesses, just a faithful recreation of each
successive album track. Except there's no need to turn the record over after
'The Red Telephone' (and this 'freedom' business sounds even more stilted after
Next a rare title announcement; 'this is called 'Between Clark and Hilldale''.
What happened to the 'Maybe the People…….. bit? And on via 'Live and Let
Live', 'Bummer in the Summer' and 'The Good Humor Man' to 'You Set the Scene'
with its triumphal orchestral climax. Sustained enthusiastic applause - are we
clapping to bring back 1967?
A short withdrawal to encourage the applause, then back for the encore, this
time without the brass and strings. Apart from a very odd offering from the
forthcoming album and a trombone-enhanced 'Always see your Face', this is more
like the 1969 Love, with another nod to 'Da Capo' via 'She comes in Colors' and
a couple of tracks from 'Four Sail'. The last of these, 'Singing Cowboy', ends
the show, with the audience joining in even to the extent of shaking hands with
the maestro (until a large bouncer clears them back).
Where do we go from here? Modern rock performers must despair at such a
consummate performance from a relative veteran, although I've no doubt that a
prodigious amount of rehearsal time has been expended. And I've seldom seen a
band so obviously enjoying themselves after two exhausting hours, including the
strings and brass. We can only look forward to the next 35 years.