By CRAIG HAMMONS
The psychedelic rock legend Arthur Brown returned to Los Angeles to weave his spell on us dedicated fans.
It was a cold night in Los Angeles and after a rough week at work I needed to rock. So we headed out to see the God of Hellfire and experience the powerful and magnificent performance of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.
The show was being held at the bi-level night club Catch One also home to the goth lovers party night “Das Bunker.” When you get to the door the first thing you do it is climb a flight of stairs to the top where a large neon sign spelling out “Viva Psycho” greets you. We wove our way into the spacious room as the opening act Ruby the Hatchet was just taking the stage.
I was very excited to see these space-aged doom rockers from Philadelphia. Lead singer of Ruby the Hatchet, Jillian Taylor, leads this band of well-schooled musicians with her electric stage presence and dynamic vocal range. They blend a vast amount of heavy Hammond B3 keyboard with shredding guitar and a rhythm section that pumps the blood into their sound.
Jillian’s sonic howls and amazing vocal range blend well with the cosmic textures of music being produced by the band. They opened with “Symphony of the Night” off their latest release Planetary Space Child.
Jillian dances around the stage like a celestial metal butterfly. She bangs her head, bends back to let her vocals soar and engages the audience with her grace and style. They then went into “Killer” a very heavy track that had guitarist Johnny Scarps ripping it up. Ruby the Hatchet is a band that has such a large sound especially with keyboardist Sean Hur attacking the keyboard like he is the ghost of Jon Lord.
It would be easy to see this band in a large arena setting. Their music has flashbacks of Uriah Heap and Deep Purple but with a psychedelic personal touch of their own. They ended the night with “Tomorrow Never Comes,” a lengthy piece that builds and soars to a climatic ending. Mind blown. Seek out Ruby the Hatchet and prepare yourself for a good time.
It was time to retire to the smoking lounge out back and down another flight of stairs to an ground level outside patio. As we were hanging out looking for a place to chill we heard the some crazy sounds coming from behind a door. So we decided to investigate. We entered another large room and a Spanish ska band from Riverside called Mala Vibra was tuning up. Next thing I knew I was skanking all over the dance floor. These cats had a full horn section that were tight, precise and on the money. The DJ of the night was Ghostown Sound System and kept it pumping before and after their set.
It was now time to get back upstairs to see the night’s main attraction The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Arthur is now 76 years old and has the energy and voice of an spirit on steroids. He rules the stage with captivating showmanship and goes thru more costume changes than Lady Gaga. Alice Cooper once said “Without Arthur Brown, there would never be Alice Cooper.” Brown is back to celebrate 50 years as the God of Hellfire. Tonight he will be playing groundbreaking hits from the past, Kingdom Come, other songs from his vast catalogue and even new tracks from his soon to be released album Gypsy Voodoo.
They opened with “Brains” an instrumental track from Arthur’s Kingdom Come days. As the song is ending the God of Hellfire enters the stage to a roaring round of applause. We have now have entered the crazy world of Arthur Brown and we like it.
Brown wearing a black mask, floor length coat and top hat kicked the band into gear with the “Zim Zam Zim” the title track from their latest release followed by “Want to Love” the next track of that album. When Arthur and the band are playing there is nothing separating us. We are audience and band sharing the same joy and wonderment together.
Next we were treated to a new track called “Gypsy Voodoo” and it does not sound like 50 years has passed since the “Fire” album was released. Speaking of the “Fire” album next they played the whole first side of that album starting with “Nightmare and finishing off with “Fire” which had everyone having heavy flashbacks. This time Arthur didn’t wear his fire helmet, I think due to the low ceiling. But legacy of this song precedes it and will never leave it.
Arthur then layed down his blues chops and was ready to testify with a scorching version of “I Put a Spell on You” that probably had Screamin Jay Hawkins sitting up in his grave to take a listen. He ventured into the audience to touch and show us that we are all one. He sung right into my face and I felt a galactic blessing from his aura, a kind of exultation. Returning to the stage he said “ I think I am a lot like you.”
He then finished the show with “Muscle of Love” showing off his vocal ability from a falsetto to an operatic wail. As we were clocking in on 90 minutes I was wondering if there would be an encore and sure enough we brought him back for more. Ending the night with a “Jungle Fever” spot lighting some fine guitar picking and Brown singing in a Tom Waits growl. We all went crazy tonight with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. The God of Hellfire burned bright tonight and may his eternal flame never die.