Monday, 22 February 2010

573 LOVE, Bristol Fleece, Tuesday 3 September 2002

Love? LOVE?!? Yup, I was amazed too, when I found out that this 1960's West Coast psychedelic ensemble were doing the rounds, so similar old hippy Beef and myself sorted out tickets for this unmissable event. Fact; if there were no Love, there would almost certainly be no Echo And The Bunnymen or Teenage Fanclub, for starters. The fact that this Love incarnation was led by original vocalist and inspiration Arthur Lee made it all the more remarkable; how could Lee, doubtless now in his 60's and an acid-fried casualty with a notorious past and a one-time appetite for recreational pharmaceuticals which could only be described as prodigious, be even in a fit state to think straight, let alone perform?

So, with many questions to be answered, Beef and I hit the Fleece at 8.15; already busy, and with dozens of folk outside scabbing tix for this long-since sell-out gig, this one was going to be heaving... With no support band on the cards (not that Beef and I actually realised that until 9.15, by which time the stage was set up for Love), it was a long, frustrating and increasingly uncomfortable wait until the appearance of the band at 9.30. And it was evident immediately that Lee would be the only original member on parade, as the rest of the band didn't even look as if they would have been born in the 1960s!

Lee joined us, last onstage with a fanfare, and immediately led the band through raucous opener "Seven And Seven Is". A tall, louche and languid figure, he cut a stylish dash with a red sweatshirt emblazoned with "Freedom For Tooting" hugging his rakishly slim figure, huge "de rigueur" sunglasses and a brown beret atop a stars'n'stripes bandana. Another advertisement for the benefits of recreational drug use as, eyes aside, he looked a good 2 decades younger than his 60.

My favourite, the modish punch of "My Little Red Book" followed, then the pastoral elegance of "Orange Skies". The all-time classic "Alone Again Or", stylishly dispensed with early doors, nevertheless received a huge ovation from this audience of assorted students and dads-night-out musos (we both felt very young!) and the set, drawn mainly from the psychedelic lushness of the first 3 Love albums, was exotic, spine-tingling and exciting, played by a tight, professional band and an old guy in Lee, who was in not only surprisingly good voice and fine fettle, but also in no mood to take any crap (responding to one heckler thus; "I'll come down there and kick yo' punk ass!"). As with the recent Flaming Lips gig, this would have been perfect at 1 hour or so, and with fewer solos from the admittedly impressive young guitarist. But arguably better too much than too little, and at 1 hour 45 minutes this set proved there's still lots of life in the old dog yet! Arthur "Be Thankful For What You've Got" Lee, as he introduced himself, left us with the instruction to, "love one another," a fitting footnote for the band called Love!

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