The Crazy World of Arthur Brown began tour in LA with White Hills and Electric Citizen (review)
Psych-rock vets The Crazy World of Arthur Brown kicked off their first tour in 47 years Wednesday (2/15) night in Los Angeles, playing to a rapturous crowd at the downtown Regent Theater. Long-winded support was provided by trad-doomers Electric Citizen and stalwart space-rock crew White Hills, who played their respective brands of backward-looking heavy rock to a receptive crowd.
I was so caught off-guard the first time I caught Arthur Brown and company (which was at last year's Psycho Las Vegas), but this time I was more prepared for the brand of occult theatricality that the venerable performer had in store. The band is going for full-on religious experience, albeit a particularly campy one, and they conjure that kind of reverence from the crowd. The band is expertly flashy, and they play perfectly off of Arthur himself, who is frankly one of the best performers I've ever seen.
With his face caked in paint, he spent an hour and a half getting the crowd to eat out of his hand. He's incredibly theatrical, but in a way that seems organic rather than calculated. He dances around and freaks out the whole time, and the fact that he's an older dude makes it all the more impressive--he often seems legitimately possessed. And his voice is insane, going from deep, booming baritone to high-pitched screech and everything in between with seeming ease. The older material (which of course dates back to the '60s) is easily the best stuff here, while the more recent stuff (from 2013's Zim Zam Zim and a handful of records released throughout the 2000s) generally leans towards the goofier side, but it's always endearingly and convincingly so. The band bring so much old-fashioned spectacle to the performance that they almost could be playing anything, though their 1969 hit "Fire" is, well, fire.
After a rendition of the 1967 track "Devil's Grip," Arthur noted that that song's organ sound would go on to be borrowed by the likes of Deep Purple, not to mention the demonic imagery that was in play well before Black Sabbath. While that observation that this band doesn't necessarily get the credit it deserves for spawning various strains of metal and proto-metal is spot on, they needn't be billed as some kind of missing link in the hard-rock chain in order to be worth recommending in their current iteration. They're simply one of the best shows on the road at the moment, and easy to recommend whatever your musical proclivities.
The tour rolls on with great support from bands like Pallbearer, Jex Thoth, and Acid King, among others. They'll hit NYC for a show at Le Poisson Rouge on February 23, for which tickets are still on sale. That one's also with Electric Citizen.
Check out some more pictures from the LA show below.