Lee, Arthur : Birmingham Academy

...more vital and timely than ever...

This isn’t nostalgia. This is real. Anyone expecting a muso-friendly, preserved-in-aspic museum piece with the return of Arthur Lee has their brain melted instantly as original punk anthem ‘7 And 7 Is’ detonates. This may be the man who crafted Hispanic-tinged psych masterpiece ‘Forever Changes’ – the greatest album ever made – 35 years ago but onstage there’s a thunderous sound that could have erupted from beneath the LA tarmac in the last six months.

Resplendent in dark glasses, stars ‘n’ stripes headscarf and hippyish Sunset Strip threads, Lee is back to right wrongs after being recently released from prison and establish Love‘s place at the centre of rock ‘n’ roll. So the classic songs from Love‘s first four albums belt out with an urgency and scratchy energy that’s as mesmerising as The Strokes or White Stripes.

The voice has improved with age, gaining richness, precision and sheer force – the ‘woah, woah, woah’s on ‘She Comes In Colours’ could floor an elephant, while the Bryan Maclean-dedicated ‘AloneAgainOr’ is staggeringly moving. Small wonder that the man is still openly worshipped by bands like The Coral. Sure, the lush arrangements of ‘Forever Changes’ are absent, but these stripped-down, high-energy songs are more vital and timely than ever.

Anthony Thornton