The stage set up resembled the venue's name (The Maze) as countless coils of leads weaved themselves around the stage floor one of which was to Chuck's Fender Vibrolux amp. Chuck and Fender amps have stained his musical history from his days as pistol whipping guitarist in Green on Red through to his solo career and it's not a stain you would ever want to erase.
The setlist tonight was great. There was a trip down "Brother Aldo" lane as they played "Queen Bee" taken from Chuck's first solo record and there was another outing for Chuck's great rendition of Alex Chilton's "Bangkok" during which a dance contest was announced by Chuck in which the best dancer in the audience would receive a free CD. This obviously delighted the people in the audience who could dance but a look of horror fell on the faces of those who couldn't! The woman down front who won must have been really impressive because I saw two small guys who must have both been in their 60's respectively to the far left of the stage who were both jumping around like there was no tomorrow! I figured it was just a matter of time until they attempted a back flip or something. Thankfully Chuck announced the winner chosen by Stephanie before the dancing got too wild and paramedics were needed.
Other memorable moments included a fantastic version of "Wish me luck" where Chuck suddenly took it way down volume wise near to the end while he gave a sermon to the audience before they picked the volume back up and he slammed through the alternative "non radio friendly" chorus of "Come on Motherfuckers! Wish me Luck!". It was awesome. "Castro Halloween" shortly followed with Chuck showing exactly why he's considered by many the greatest guitarist around during it's outro.
"Sonny liston's blues" rocked the joint as Chuck's slapping F#m intro riff resonated the room with his trademark Fender tone. It was also great to hear "Lonely Desolation" and "They don't know about me and you" both taken from Chuck's recent record, Night Surfer. Both came across excellent on the "live" stage.
Stephanie (who looks like she's around mid 20's in age!) was also brought forward as she and Chuck ping-ponged vocal duties on a great version of "Little Girl, Little Boy" taken from Chuck's acclaimed 2012 record, Temple Beautiful and also "Tina Goodbye" taken from her own record "Cry Tomorrow" which is a real gem musically and personally one of my favorite records that I own. Unfortunately it never seemed to make much noise in the musical world. Seldom seems to be the case these days where great music drifts by unnoticed. During her musical segment some woman was heard asking Chuck and herself where she could get the record "Hotel San Jose" by The Go Go Market" (The Go Go Market had been Stephanie's previous outing as a solo artist circa 2002 albeit with Chuck on board as well)
Chuck responded by saying the master tapes were missing and "Sometimes it's just easier to record new music".
One of my all time favorite Chuck Prophet songs also ringed out tonight, the awesome "Temple Beautiful". A classic piece of rock & roll songwriting that is up there with the anything by the Stones or Kinks in my opinion. The audience were given the customary tutorial by Chuck on their participation needed for the chorus beforehand and then the song kicked off like a plane accelerating down a runway. A full throttle musical delight. "Willie Mays" another song taken from the Temple Beautiful record also featured a vocal melody tutorial from Chuck to the audience "So, you've got it now, right?" Good job it wasn't a guitar tutorial it would've been a long night!
It was yet another great gig with Vincente, James, Kevin and Stephanie all displaying their musical prowess once again alongside Chuck. I sat on a couch talking to Chuck after the gig as people walked up to get their T-shirts and CD's signed by him. We sat there gazing out at the empty stage at one point as the equipment was starting to be packed away. My thoughts were ones of envy but musical satisfaction after witnessing yet another display of brilliance whereas his thoughts were no doubt made up of relief and tiredness after giving it his all yet again.
A Chuck Prophet gig is something everyone who appreciates guitar music should go to at least once and the chances are you'll go back time and time and time again.
Dave Griffiths (Gasfoodlodging) June 2015