Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles
USA, May 30. 2003
Last Update: 03.
It had to happen some time, and sadly, out of the four Love shows I´ve
seen so far, this was the first where Arthur´s voice was just not up to the
job. Perhaps he was ill, as he seemed a lot more reserved and ´holding
back´ in his performance for most of the evening - he hit the stage with a lot
less confidence than I had seen previously. At least on an instrumental
level, the Forever Changes set was awesome. Vocally it was hit and
miss. Arthur actually didn´t seem to be able to hit the lower range on
"A House is Not a Motel", but "Old Man" sounded beautiful.
Fortunately the capacity crowd at Royce Hall was very supportive. Arthur
finally did seem to relax a bit despite the vocal troubles, doing some great ´conducting´
during "The Good Humor Man...".
By the encore things had really picked up, Arthur did probably the most amazing
harp solo on "Signed DC" I´ve yet heard. The big news for this
gig, of course, was that Johnny Echols came out for "7 and 7 is",
with an amazingly touching introduction from Arthur. The guitar he came on
with was kind of out of tune, but he did an awesome job on the end solo.
(and Arthur said "I have a funny feeling we´re going to be seeing a lot
more of him...") Finally, Jay Donellan was brought out for an
aw-dropping "Singing Cowboy" (w/ strings and horns), which fortunately
ended the show on a very high note. In some respects it was disappointing,
but only because his voice has been so amazingly good at all the other shows I´ve
ROCK FINDS LOVE AMID ORCHESTRAL SOUNDS
by Natalie Nichols -SPECIAL to LA TIMES
Live orchestrated rock isn't rare nowadays, but it was back in 1967, when
iconic L.A. band Love released "Forever Changes," its eclectic,
enduring third album.
It sits in the pantheon of influential Southern California collections alongside
the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds," but leader Arthur Lee still took 35
years to muster a full performance, complete with an octet of strings and horns
flavoring his groundbreaking blend of folk, pop, flamenco, blues and jazz.
Friday's sold-out "Forever Changes" concert at UCLA's Royce Hall
wasn't as grandly conceived as Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson's "Pet
Sounds" show in 2000 at the Hollywood Bowl.
Yet despite such problems as a muddy sound mix, the performance was highlighted
by Lee's stellar current incarnation of Love, rendering "Forever
Changes" entirely and in order with classical-instrument accents in all the
Such moments were delightful, with clarion trumpet notes invigorating and
levitating the hushed verses of "Alone Again Or," a cushion of strings
providing lush counterpoint.
Lee played much guitar and a little harmonica, seeming distant at first but
eventually warming up.
He offered bits of background and commentary, noting the relevancy of "The
Red Telephone," which resonated in a line about locking up people and
throwing away the key, and in the ominous rumination, "I wonder who it'll
be tomorrow, you or me?"
Although Lee's oblique poetry freed the songs from ties to a specific era and
place, his voice belied their timelessness. His singing was disappointingly
rough, never more than serviceable, and sometimes nearly drowned out by musical
crescendos and obnoxious fans shouting inane comments as if at a sporting event.
Fortunately, the joyful expertise of this Love — the Los Angeles quartet Baby
Lemonade, a longtime Lee collaborator — did much to buoy the hour and 45
Guitarist Mike Randle's marvelously bluesy-to-psychedelic solos were especially
impressive, remaining distinctly his while reproducing the style of original
Love guitarist John Echols.
Echols himself guest-starred during an encore rendition of the hit "7 and 7
Is," and a later Love guitarist, Jay Donnellan, played on "Singing
Cowboy," which he and Lee co-wrote.
These surprises further offset the disappointments, making "Forever
Changes" a mostly satisfying, once-in-a-lifetime experience.