Barn d'Or Music aka Mike Lance promoting music in Brighton for over 20 years - still at it !




Arthur Brown @ The Hanbury, Brighton, thursday 9 september 2004

new Arthur picture

Another captivating show by local boy Brown. Opening with face swathed in a big black scarf beneath a big black hat, carrying a big black totem stick and a wee willy winkie candle, Arthur intones laughing Lenny Cohen’s The Future’ (Arthur used to perform ‘A hard rain’s gonna fall’, but has found a deeper, darker – but humorous – apocalyptic number). Mr Brown is always excellent value; a fantabulous showman whose vocal swoops encompass a greater range, top and bottom end, than the equally eccentric Brian Wilson. Arthur takes a song and wrenches it from known reality into his very own. ‘Fire’ meanders briefly into ‘Break on through to the other side’; ‘I put a spell on you’ is as comic-demonic as ever; ‘The devil’s grip’ still grasps. The ethereal ‘Kites’ is graced with a twirly pastiche ballet dance. A pluto-comic-pause between ‘Fire poem’ and ‘Fire’ creases the audience and Brown (who inserts a plug for a fizzy lager whose name i shall not utter).

Arthur’s show veers towards Spinal Tapisms, in the nicest possible way – Arthur nearly obliviously collides with the monitor, water and wine glass as His Highness (well – he is rather tall) moves, bemasked, onto the stage; seated acoustic heavy metal god Chris Bryant, grimacingly half levitating out of his seat as he is transported by his own playing, hooked fingered saluting the crowd in absolute glee as he pulls off another solo which has wandered its zigzag way in very unexpected directions; Arthur’s black, flashy flashy light interstellar headgear removed at the end of ‘Time captives’ and flashing diodes dismantled, to reveal the tacky polystyrene helmet in all its tuppenceworth of glory; Nick Pynn forced to find and develop the tune, which he does with aplomb (whatever that is) as his guitar playing partner, having broken one string and grabbed the reserve, manages to repeat the feat and grinningly restrings.

It’s impossible not to acknowledge mighty-multi-instrumental Mr Pynn who disgorges gorgeous violin, reverse looped dulcimer and layered theremin sounds. Both players have to keep their eyes and ears on Arthur’s fleeting, flitting directions and each other’s playing as they hare off on another quest for cosmic er, cosmicness. They’ve played together long enough now to be able to transport each other (and us) to places you’d not dream of (or if you did, you’d awake very, very scared) and to places you’ll never, ever want to return from. Arthur seizes the opportunity to sit, cross legged on the floor with some of the audience to watch, in awe, his own magic band.

Never one to meekly end a set, Arthur endlessly extemporises beyond time. Over two hours later, way gone midnight, his wailing ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ extends beyond the extension and he's still extolling ‘That’s how strong my love is’ (a rendition that always tweaks my tearducts as well as the smile muscles) then Nick suddenly finds himself wafting a delicate impromptu theremin solo at us as Chris legs it to the gents in midsong - as divine a loo-break intervention as you’d wish for. Excellent stuff, Your Excellency. We all left, eventually, tired but fired.