Love and Genius
Arthur Lee looked leaner and fitter last night than I remembered him from the other two times I’ve seen him play with the band that now goes under the name of Love. If he wasn’t leaner and fitter he was certainly more stoned. He managed to forget the words to the songs on a couple of occasions but it didn’t matter much because the audience filled in the gaps. The audience was having a great time, and so was Arthur, and so was the band. The only reason I’d ever go and see a band three times is two reasons: because the music is fabulous, and because they deliver a great show, and Love do all that, if not more.
The first time I saw them was three or four years ago in a small club in Sheffield. It was probably when they first started touring again after all those years. I’m not sure. I can remember having my doubts about the wisdom of it all. However brilliant Love were back in the good old days of the 1960s, this was only going to be Arthur Lee and a bunch of musicians using the name. I was wrong. It was a genius, singing genius songs that were over 30 years old but sounded like they were fresh this morning, with a band doing them more than justice. I lost count of the times it all sent shivers down my spine that night. It was mesmeric. The second time was in the big, impersonal space of Rock City. It was another great show. It was pretty much the same show, because they always do pretty much the same show. But yes, it was great again, or.
Having said which, last night they rang a few changes. Arthur played the harmonica quite a bit, and really well. They played stuff that’s set to be on a new record, and it sounded good. They also had with them this time around Johnny Echols, the band’s original lead guitarist alongside the rest of the regular gang, and that was really cool. I wonder what he’s been up to for the last thirty years…..
Anyway, the only other thing I have left to say is that the word genius is bandied around quite a lot, I guess. I bandy it myself. But from the moment the first notes of “Alone Again Or” kick in, there is only one word to describe what Arthur Lee wrote by way of songs back in the 1960s, and the word is, no apologies, genius.