Loft, Lyon
France March 6. 2004

Last Update: 16. marts 2004

Live and let live
Your mind and we belong together
Alone again or
A house is not a motel
Old man
7 and 7 is
Signed D.C.
My flash on you
The red telephone
Stephanie knows who
Orange skies
You set the scene
Singing cowboy
Between Clark and Hilldale
Can't explain


After the Paris Trabendo gig on the previous Thursday, we had to go back to Marseilles for work. We boarded the train at about 2.30 on Saturday and arrived in Lyon around 4. A nice girl gave us some information about the Lyon's underground and we headed for the Jean Macé station in no time . Checked into our hotel and were pleased to discover a very pleasant room. Then a quick stroll to the soundcheck at The Loft, 7 rue Renan ; it looked like an old dancing-place but we were later told in the queue that the other venues like "le Transbordeur" were already booked for groups like "Air"; too bad … Anyway, we spotted Mike who had just arrived there with Daddyo and Rusty and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about Don Conca and Johnny Echols. I told him that the Paris Trabendo gig had blown us away and that had particularly appreciated his solos, which brought a smile to his face. We left them after a while, met two other fans who had come all the way from Nimes (Gard) for the gig and wanted to know about the Seeds. I told them they had a genuine garage sound, at which they sounded relieved ! Well, it takes all kinds…

Left them to go to a restaurant just on the corner of the street and the young couple who ran it told us that they wouldn't be able to serve us a meal as the place had been reserved for the musicians who played at the Loft tonight (Bingo !), still they would accept to serve cafés later on at dinner time. All we had to do now was find a place to eat and we landed in a sympathetic Turkish restaurant were we had two tipical meals and tasted a real good Turkish red wine. Knowing we would't have enough time left to find red Merlot for Arthur's birthday, we decided to buy him a big bottle of that Turkish wine which we had found really good indeed ! Hips ! After writing "Happy birthday Arthur and a few lines on a restaurant table-mat, we wrapped it up in it and off we went for the gig. There were already quite a few people queuing up and we started chatting with some of them, exchanging details of previous gigs (they were amazed to see we had already notched up 10 gigs to our credit.) and one gave me a special flyer for this gig. Thanks man ! It will add to the two beautiful posters we had found attached to a post in the street : quite a good harvest for souvenirs ! Once we had got inside the venue, we met a young couple and struck an immediate friendship with them ; I then queued at the bar for a few beers and purchased the RFH gig on DVD. Then Mike arrived , I found myself a nice spot near the left of the stage, snugly surrounded by two young girls (can't be bad) while Chantal had found a good spot for her camera on the right of the pillar in between us.

The gig was fantastic . I loved it. Third night in a row after that Paris perfect gig, and they were still on an uplifting high, looser as it was a smaller venue but still they rocked it as if there was no tomorrow. My fears that being too close to the sound equipment would distort or muddle the sound were quickly dissipated. The sound was organic, every nuance preserved, from the soft and warm release of " so many people, they just seem to clutter up my mind…", that passage in "Your mind and we belong together" unfurling like a wave after a furious beginning, to an apocalyptic version of "Singing cowboy", it was clear that this was the real Arthur' s birthday party, Arthur himself prancing the stage like a wild horse and letting it all hang out ! He even managed to keep his cool when a guy in the front told him that the voice wasn't loud enough (or maybe to remove his shades, I'm not too sure about that) to which Arthur made as if he was going to knock the guy down with a good bang of his tambourine, then chose to brush it off with a ringing "shut up". Nobody was gonna spoil his fun at his party and the joy he clearly radiated on that red-letter night . The atmosphere kept buiding up with highlights like "My flash on you" ,"The red telephone" "You set the scene" "Old man" and climaxed with such a wild version of "singing cowboy" that it brought the house down, everybody screaming for more, Arthur on his knees singing in a fan's very face as if he was dedicating it all to her. The first encore saw Arthur come back for a version of "Beetween Clack and Hilldale" collectors will sell their mother for. After inquiring if we were all feeling good this evening (you bet) Arthur was himself feeling so carried away by the wild response that during the scat passage where he goes "da da da da "…doubling the original trumpet part, he couldn't make up his mind to see if he would re-entry on the couplet or extemporize and suddendly jettisonned the lyrics for "Parlez vous Français and all that …" which sent a bemused Trusty Rusty in an irrepressible fit of laughter . The gig ended with Arthur exploding anew with a joyous "Parlez vous Français" sounding just like a child reveling in some new foreign sounds he's just mastered ! He went on with "You did'n't have as much fun as I did …so I owe you one, right ?" then on to "Can't explain" to carry it off with a last flourish.

Then as the group had just left the stage to a roaring applause, here comes Mike running out to quiz us : " in one hour a certain person is having his birthday … on March 7th …who can tell me who that person is ? "and spontaneously leading the ecstatic crowd into a "happy birthday Arthur" chant.

Still floored by it all, we managed to end up backstage "starry-eyed and laughing" to have a few words with all the members of the group, took a few pictures with Arthur and even had a friendly talk with him. Incredible night. Celebration is the word. I will always remember it., for the rest of my life, no less.

Thinking back on it all, It's funny to see how the rendition of songs evolves with the different tours : here "the red telephone" has acquired a new fluidity, the guitars and bass sounds blending in a shimmering tapestry which adds another dimension to the song. Same remark for "Old man" where all the subtle chords and harmonies ring to the full ; Arthur feels now familiar enough with Brian's song to really come into his own on that number, investing it with a beautiful soulful feeling, specially at the end on the words " till I heard you whisper, took you all up in my arms (own ?)", his voice soaring effortlessly with a natural vibrato which evokes his late departed friend

A special mention must be made for the musicans who seem to get better and better along the years. While each of them brings his part to a living sound, now one can almost hear how well each one of them works like a cog in a well-oiled machine, from Dave Chapple's prowling deep basslines to Daddyo relentless rythmic drives, from Rusty Squeezebox dead-precise yet flowing, rippling arpeggios anchoring it all (while always keeping an eye to the general proceedings) to Mike's incredible mastery of a impressionistic palette of tones that lend the songs new more contemporary colours while retaining their original spirit, it's clear that this new group is nothing short of a miracle.

Not only are these musicians masters of sound control, they make this music breathe ; they can now call it their own because they've managed to make it rock like a beast while retaining all the gentleness, warmth and delicacy such songs required . Beautiful !

Jean Marie Oliva (Blue Jim)