Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco
USA, May 31. 2003

Last Update: 03. oktober 2003

saw arthur lee at the fillmore. after walking out on him last time people said i was nuts to go again but i figured he could only go up in my book now so why not? 
nearly sold out. no opening act. same band as before - baby lemonade - but this time with a string section(3 violins, a viola and cello) and horns (two trumpets and a trombone) because this was the "forever changes" anniversary thing. baby lem is 2 guitars, bass and drums by the way. arthur came out dressed same as last time - jeans, cowboy shirt, cowboy hat over bandana head with wraparound shades he left on throughout. he walked on a little shaky - to a huge hand (how many of these people witnessed the fiasco last time he was here?). 
shook his tambourine and launched into "my little red book". couldn't hear the vocals or the lead guitar. fillmore usually has great sound - what gives? people yelled, "turn it up", "turn the vocal up", "up the guitar!". "all we hear is drums!!". i was glad to see we had a somewhat savvy crowd this time. the morons at bimbo's would never have even noticed! next came "orange skies", and still the mix was a mess. it was like being at a soundcheck. mr. lee seemed tired but not drunk and he explained, "i don't want to make excuses but i fell out of the bathtub this morning and hurt my leg". as a result he was stiff the whole night and as his pain killers wore off he seemed to have more and more trouble. but he soldiered on and made jokes about it. he was the exact opposite of last time. no rants, no speeches. not at all disturbing. quite charming in fact. next came "your mind and we belong together" with the rhythm guy playing the "getting better" riff on a beautiful fireglo rickenbacker 360. the lead guitarist had a white (or cream) gibson 335. bassist had a fender precision but he sounded muddy - except for when he used a pick which was only once or twice.
and then came the entire "forever changes" album in sequence. i have to say it was hampered by the bad mix and also by arthur's on and off key vocal. but even so, with the strings and the horns it was absolutely incredible. people were so happy they cheered mid song like in the mariachi bit on "alone again or". the trumpet guy was so happy he raised his horn in triumph. the next song, "a house in not a motel" was so well done it gave me chills. "daily planet" (my fave song on the album) was also right on, the drummer having a good time playing hal blaine's rolls. arthur played a white strat now and then. no pick, just his fingers. he played well. the rhythm guy played a 6 string gibson acoustic for the acoustic numbers. lee knew all his lyrics with no help except for "old man" which he acknowledged was written by brian maclean. but he had as much trouble hitting the high notes in this as he did with "andmoreagain". he fared much better with his dylan/hendrix voice on "bummer in the summer". also by now the sound guy had his act together and the band was more warmed up. the strings where tremendous - especially when arthur conducted. and the horns with the big march at  the end - that was magnificent. a very ambitious thing to try to play this album on stage. they did a more than decent job.
he tipped his hat and went off to cheers and came back for an encore with "seven and seven is". "is there a wheelchair in the house?", he asked. someone suggested a  stool. really, he could have sat down for some of the songs. but he kept going. "i'm doing the best i can playing guitar and trying to stand on one leg", he said with smile. "but i can do two things at once!". next came the "everybody's gotta live/instant karma" medley. finally he brought the strings and horns back for "singing cowboy". in the end he limped off and had to be helped by his guitarist. as i said his vocals were on and off - at times the show was totally off the ground and into the stratosphere, at other times you'd wince. but mostly it was great.
arthur, all is forgiven.

don ciccone