|On August 19, 2003 the once and future "King of the
Sunset Strip" returned to claim his throne. Heralded by the fanfare
of trumpets and the swelling of strings, Arthur Lee held court at the
Hollywood, California House of Blues and erased all doubt as to the divine
righteousness of his claim to rock and roll royalty.
He began with a perfectly furious rendition of "Your Mind and We
Belong Together" accompanied by his Love bandmates since 1993, -
Rusty Squeezebox on rhythm guitar, Dave Chappelle on bass, David
"Daddio" Green on drums and Mike Randle on lead guitar.
"The last time I was here, this place was called Stratford's on the
Strip," he mused to the packed house, adding with a chuckle,
"You don't want to know . . ." and then the haunting melody of
"Orange Skies" complete with flute accompaniment by Dan Clucas
floated into the room. Lee's voice was in exquisite form as he executed
the daring high notes so perfectly during the first chorus, that by the
time they came around again in the second chorus he seemed almost defiant
with bravado as he showed the packed house that this was going to be a
night to remember and a show for all past and future Love shows to be
Next Lee introduced "a very important song, 'Your Mind and We
Belong Together'", apparently forgetting that he'd just used it as
his opening number! After a false start and some debate with the band he
was finally convinced of his error. (Well it wouldn't be an Arthur Lee
show if everything went like clockwork now would it?) A rocking "My
Little Red Book" was played instead and that little glitch was soon
And then Mr. Lee and Love launched into an incredible performance of
the entire "Forever Changes" album accompanied by Paula Yoo on
violin, Heather Lockie on viola, Ana Vale on cello, Probyn Gregory on
trumpet and Dan Clucas on trumpet and flute. Words cannot describe the
incredible power and beauty of that performance. All I can say is go buy
the recently released "Forever Changes Concert live at the Royal
Festival Hall" in London and then use your imagination to make that
album sound two or three times better than it already is!
One of the many highlights of that set was "Old Man" written
and originally sung by the late Bryan MacLean. On the live London cd Lee
has some trouble hitting the highest notes. But at the House of Blues this
night, Lee not only nailed those notes but he invested the entire song
with such emotional intensity that Bryan must have been looking down and
cheering along with the crowd.
After the triumphantly climactic "You Set The Scene"
concluded the "Forever Changes" set, the band left the stage
briefly, then returned to play some of the other favorites that the crowd
had been shouting for all night: "Signed D.C.",
"Everybody's Gotta Live/Instant Karma", "7 & 7
Is", "August" (another highlight of the evening driven by
Dave "Daddio" Green's relentless polyrhythms), "My Flash on
You", "She Comes in Colours" (featuring another beautiful
performance by flautist Dan Clucas) and then closing with the anthemic
"Singing Cowboy" featuring the entire Forever Changes strings
and horns ensemble one last time.
Then as a final treat, Arthur Lee called two members of his original
Love band from 1966 out to the stage, Don Conka (as in Signed
"D.C.") and guitar wizard Johnny Echols to perform one of their
jams from the old days "Smokestack Lightning". Arthur played
harmonica and gave his best Howling Wolf impersonation as they boogied the
blues chestnut to a rousing finish.
And as the crowd filed out there was no doubt in anyone's mind. King
Arthur was back!
Photos from the rehearsal