Corn Exchange, Cambridge
UK, January 17. 2003

Last Update: 03. oktober 2003

7 & 7 Is
My Little Red Book
Orange Skies
Your Mind And We Belong Together
Alone Again Or
A House Is Not a Motel
The Daily Planet
Old Man
The Red Telephone
Between Clark And Hilldale
Live & Let Live
The Good Humor Man..
Bummer In The Summer
You Set The Scene
Robert Montgomerey
My Flash On You
Signed DC
Everybody´s Gotta Live/Instant Karma
She Comes In Colors
Always See Your Face
Listen To My Song
My Anthem
Singing Cowboy

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 35 years).
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.

Ian Durant