Love with Arthur Lee, The Ambassador, Dublin, 16th June 2002
Ask 100 people on the street about Arthur Lee or Love and you're likely to be met with a blank stare on at least 95 counts. And yet, the story of this cult 1960s group is the stuff of rock legend. Indeed, the great Arthur Lee couldn't have appeared in The Ambassador this time last year, he was banged up in prison for firearm offences (shooting a gun in the air, allegedly).
The 56-year-old was released last December after serving six years of a 12-year sentence and is touring again. He has never played in Ireland before, but he could be in no doubt about his whereabouts with a lot of soggy tricolours flying around the place. With a grin from ear to ear, he looked like an old Jimi Hendrix or BB King in a bandana.
Similar to Brian Wilson's gig at The Point earlier this year, the average age in the audience on Sunday night appeared to be about 25 - trendy young things whose parents were still in school when the now classic "Forever Changes" was first released. Incidentally, "Big 60s Hair" also seems to be a popular Love fan look. And like with Mr Wilson's current tour, the emphasis is on the album that stood the test of time, that still influences music over thirty years later, and that makes most critics top ten lists.
With the exception of a few more recent songs and a John Lennon cover, Lee and his band performed the whole of "Forever Changes", which was warmly received by the adoring audience. 'You set the scene', 'Live and let live' and 'The daily planet' sounded as if they had been composed last week and it's not hard to hear the Love influence in much of today's music. Their unique blend of pop, rock and folk was an inspiration to bands like The Doors and The Byrds at their time of birth and in the contemporary music world, many bands have picked up their sound and ran with it.
Lee didn't speak much, choosing instead to smile broadly and accept the roaring applause graciously. As he pauses to tune his guitar, the audience start an impromptu "Free Arthur Lee" chant. The Ambassador may not be the greatest place on earth, but it must beat the hell out of Pleasant Valley State Prison.