Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express live at Cluny, Newcastle
Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express The Cluny, Newcastle
3rd May 2012
Opening act, Danny from Danny and the Champions of the World was a bit of an odd choice of support; as his band can rock-out with the best of them, but alone and acoustic? His choice of songs went down well with a dozen or so fans in the packed hall; but the rest appeared non-plussed by bare versions of the songs on offer tonight.
Wearing a hat at a jaunty angle and looking not unlike a devilishly handsome young Johnny Depp, Chuck Prophet and his Mission Express were a completely different animal altogether. Following some problems with the sound system the band arrived on stage later than expected and kicked off two hours of Good, old-fashioned Rock music with Styrofoam and Play That Song Again.
Chuck is a pretty mean guitar player in his own right but wing-man James DePrato soon had the technogeeks around me drooling at the licks he was producing from what looked like an array of custom built guitars; including a twin-necked 12 string.
The baby-faced Rock star announced quite early on that they’d be playing a few songs from their latest album TEMPLE BEAUTIFUL; but not to worry as there would be some old songs in the set too.
Well; Mr. Prophet needn’t have worried as the crowd was already well versed in the new songs and everything from that album was greeted with a huge cheer and plenty of adoring fans belting out the lyrics with glee (if not perfect harmony). As well as singing along at the top of their voices; three fuller figured gentlemen sitting at the front of the balcony appeared to have their own choreography worked out for at least three songs; much to the singers’ delight.
For the first hour or so Prophet’s funny and insightful stories were usually longer than the music that followed, with very songs coming in at over three minutes long.
Of the new songs on show The Left Hand and The Right Hand, which was about two brothers who ran a strip club in his home town was dedicated to Noel & Liam Oasis, which got a huge cheer; and Willie May’s (Up To Bat) was a lot louder and rockier than on the album and had the joint jumping (literally)!
At one stage the guy to my left nudged me and pointed to Prophet and screamed “He’s smiling! He’s having fun!” Into my ear, “When was the last time you saw somebody enjoy themselves on stage?” It was a good point, well made. Prophet and the band genuinely looked like they were having fun playing to an appreciative audience.
Stephanie Finch on Vox keyboards especially looked like she was having a whale of a time and when she joined Prophet for Little Girl/Little Boy a great night of Rock music got a little bit better.
Would You Still Love Me? From SOAP & WATER was better than I’d remembered and was only spoiled by a group of slightly worse for wear women at the bar; whose husbands had last been seen pogoing down the front like a bunch of mating maniti. It really was ‘one of those nights.’
As the night wore on comparisons were being offered from left and right with this show being viewed as a mini Last Waltz, but the Allman Brothers and Tom Petty were both offered up too and my favourite idea was when someone suggested that this was what it must have felt like to see Springsteen at the Stone Pony back in the day; seconds before the band launched into I Came For You!
Just when we thought things couldn’t get any better the band encored with Summertime Blues and the Flamin’ Groovies’ Shake Some Action which managed to drain the very last ounce of adrenaline and sweat from the middle-aged rockers down the front.
An evening of Rock and Roll music like this really is the most fun you can have with your clothes on! What a night.
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