“Before the yuppies, I was here!” Arthur proclaimed to a packed and exuberant crowd at Austin, TX's Barracuda. The God of Hellfire returned to the city he called home through a good stretch of the ‘80s and '90s (and current home to some of his family) to bring to a close his first US tour in 47 years with back-to-back shows, February 24 and 25.
Fort Worth’s Pinkish Black, Dallas’ Mothership and Little Rock’s Pallbearer kicked the place into gear on opening night, revving up an anxious crowd for a dazzling 90-plus minute set from The Crazy World of Arthur Brown that featured numerous costume changes and cuts off the 2014 Zim Zam Zim album, in addition to “The Tell Tale Heart” off Tales of Mystery and Imagination - the debut studio album from The Alan Parsons Project - and “I Put a Spell on You,” a Screamin' Jay Hawkins cover off Brown's debut release. Arthur conjured every ounce of his signature stage aura to the East 6th Street venue, a stage which allowed the crowd to intimately appreciate Arthur’s soaring vocal ability and lithe girations, moves more resemblant of a 20-something festival dancer than a 75-year-old psych icon. And his band, featuring Austinite Bruce Hughes (a friend and collaborator from Arthur’s earlier Austin years) on bass, Carter Arrington on guitar, Dane Farnsworth on keys and Chip Vayenas on drums, was nothing short of astounding in their own right. (Farnsworth was led on a tour across the stage both nights, keeping up with his finger work as Arthur snatched up the keyboard and paraded it around the stage).
Night two welcomed all female-fronted opening acts, with Electric Citizen (who held down a supporting role throughout the tour), Jex Thoth and Acid King ushering in the second wave of hellfire-seekers (and many return attendees) for an even flashier round two. As a small set of stairs was arranged at the front of the stage prior to TCWOAB’s set, rumors of a flaming helmet appearance, which was absent night one, began to weave their way through the throng. (Stay tuned for more photos in our upcoming print issue - ya can’t ruin everything on the immediate gratification of the Almighty Internet!)
While both nights elicited an impassioned crowd response, night two took a notably boisterous turn near the end of the set during "Muscle of Love" and then "Junkyard King" as a few wildcards took to stage diving, and trying their damnedest to get a pit turning in a generally non-pit environment. (Even drawing the ire of a few unenthused attendees, to put it mildly: “I am going to punch that idiot in the back of the head” was one declaration I heard from behind me). Ever the showman, Arthur never broke stride or his steadied sense of humor, blaring through the megaphone he’d recently employed to do as you please but “don’t push over the electronic equipment. And don’t you piss in my microwave either!”
Following "Junkyard King", the band exited the stage after a brief farewell bow. Arthur ensnared the audience for one last cut, swinging back to a sultry disposition as he and Arrington slid into Jungle Fever, capping off a memorable finale, one which further reinforced The Crazy World of Arthur Brown as one of the strangest, funkiest bands to have graced this rock. Cheers to Psycho Entertainment for producing such an event, to Boss Tweed for a killer backline and for keeping things tight, to the staff and sound team at the Barracuda and everyone else involved.
We will post some of the film shots (including shots of Mothership and Pinkish Black) next week once they are developed. Stay tuned for our favorite selections from the weekend in future print releases, including our upcoming Issue III out at the end of this month.