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Chuck Prophet, The Borderline, London, May 14th 2010

May 16, 2010

Al The Manc, Parky and I met in the Pillars before the gig to down a few pints (in my case, Westerham’s delicious single-hop Cascade ale) and put the world to rights. The conversation turned to the future of the music ‘business’, with me expressing my doubts about the long-term viability of big record companies or artists continuing to make substantial fortunes out of their music.

Artists have to do it for themselves increasingly these days, but if you keep touring and keep putting out enough songs your existing fans want to hear, there’s no reason why you can’t make a living out of it, if not a fortune. Chuck Prophet is one such artist – he made it relatively big briefly in the 80s with Green On Red and has subsequently carved out a solo career by permanently touring and recording. Oh, and he’s a great rock ‘n’ roll performer too – one of the very best.

Up on the small stage of The Borderline, Chuck and the band, including wife Steph on keyboards and vocals, launched into the hard chugging rock of Doubter Out Of Jesus from the excellent Soap And Water album. The band got into the groove very quickly and my toes didn’t stop tapping all night (and my head was doing the rock-nod too). We were treated to songs from all of Chuck’s solo career, from Queen Bee off 1990’s Brother Aldo album, to Love Won’t Keep Us Apart, Good Time Crowd, Hot Talk and the title track from last year’s ¡Let Freedom Ring!.

Apart from an amusing rant against Travelodge and a tribute to the late Alex Chilton, we didn’t have too much of the Chuck banter, but the music was superb throughout. The show’s highlights were last year’s slow-burner You And Me Baby (Holdin’ On), Elvis tribute Would You Love Me, from Soap And Water, and 1993’s straight up rock ‘n’ roller Balinese Dancer. Steph and Chuck also did a couple of songs without the rest of the band, prompting Al The Manc to suggest that they’re the Johnny and June of bar-room rock ‘n’ roll, which is a nice thought.

The absolute highspot of the show, though, was the lazy but insistent slow rocker Summertime Thing, from 2002’s No Other Love, which has proved to be a live favourite and rightly so. It’s just gorgeous. The band came back for two encores, Alex Chilton’s 1978 song Bangkok and Always A Friend, the song Chuck co-wrote with Alejandro Escovedo and which was popularised by Bruce Springsteen. That’s probably helped Chuck pay a few bills…

And now tell me that this isn’t one of the greatest summer songs:

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One Comment leave one →
  1. john denley permalink
    August 21, 2010 6:31 pm

    Yes,Chuck works a crowd like a giggolo,and plays guitar even better.Johnny and June – good parallel – I was thinking Gram P and Emmy Lou!

    I must agree that Chuck has a fair few great songs ,nicely paced sets,with the audience malleable in his hands .He has charm and charisma on stage.

    A great live turn,with a series of excellent albums under his belt.I had a few to drink at Chuck’s Bristol gig,and have only just recalled I bought a t-shirt there! He does seem to run an operation that could be the model for other acts business-wise,as long as he avoids the desert! ( Chuck pre-song rap reference.)

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