Chuck Prophet. Aided and abetted by the Mission Express, with Stephanie Finch as keyboard Bonnie to Chuck’s Telecaster Clyde. A night at the Brudenell proved these guys can steal your heart away with their tautly written hymns to life, loves and the weirdities (if such a word exists) of existence. They’re guilty. And seemingly sentenced to life on the road without parole.
Guitar driven tunes underpin lyrics describing motors and music, politics, LA and - of course - troubled and troubling relationships. The results are catchy and melodic without being poppy or simplistic. Tightly played, the band display real team work, bouncing rhythm, lead and harmony between them. There are elements of Tom Petty and Los Lobos there, but more complex and fully flavoured. This is a well aged Rioja, San Miguel. Think Duane Eddy or Link Wray doing guitar duty in the Clash...
Thirteen or more albums after splitting from the legendary Green on Red, Prophet is a master storyteller in song, with sharp oneliners to match any stand up; tales of life on the road and tunes which can be sharp and cutting or soft and sardonic. Oh, and words of sympathy for cricket fans for another match lost... Chuck was in merry form, greeting the audience like something between old friends and naughty nephews.
Watch out for Castro Halloween, Who Put the Bomp and Happy Ending . They’re great tunes by a great songwriter, well worth checking out via his website. And next time this crew are in town, beg, steal or borrow your way along to see them to judge for yourself.
Support act the Dreaming Spires are also well worth a listen. Echoes of the Byrds and Springsteen inform their harmonies and this Oxford-based combo provided an ideal appetiser for the main course.
Gig date: June 2