The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN
PSYCHO LAS VEGAS @ THE JOINT
Sometimes it’s all about expectations, or in this case perhaps a lack thereof. After an already long day, just day one of a monumentally long weekend, there was a distinct possibility that I’d be sticking around to shoot a couple of songs and then making a hasty exit long before curtain call. Arthur Brown wasn’t up until midnight, headlining the main stage at Psycho Las Vegas, and like, I suspect, most of the audience, I only knew one song (we all know which one), and had no intention of sticking around until the bitter end to hear it. I made that mistake with Steppenwolf years ago. Never again.
Arthur Brown takes to the stage wearing a black robe and a spiked helmet, his face painted like he’s just crawled out of a tent at Woodstock. Although this is to be expected, as first impressions go, it is by no means a bad one. At 74 years old, he also has a serious set of lungs, positively belting out the first couple of tunes. By the time he’s finished those tunes I’m completely hooked and, frankly, of the opinion that Arthur Brown is a genius. It is also entirely possible that he might be an actual wizard.
Sadly, like I said, I’m not familiar with many of the songs, but where you might expect somewhat dated psychedelia there are blues driven riffs and undertones of reggae, with kind of an eccentric Tom Waits vibe, all of it utterly mesmerizing. A cover of Screaming Jay Hawkins I Put A Spell On You is not only completely appropriate, but also backs up the wizard theory. Brown is nothing if not crazy, but crazy in a good way, a wonderful twinkle in his eyes suggesting that he’s still enjoying every moment of this. Certainly it never feels like an act; this is just who he is; utterly bonkers and all the better for it.
Inevitably, being The God Of Hellfire, he brings us Fire, – complete with fire-eating dancing girls – but he has the decency not to save it for last, perhaps aware that we’re not going anywhere, his spells already having worked their magic. Instead we stay until the bitter end after all, bitter only because it’s over when we could have danced all night.