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Love Band - Islington Assembly Hall, London, 5/7/2019

  by Dastardly

published: 6 / 8 / 2019

Love Band - Islington Assembly Hall, London, 5/7/2019


Dastardly watches The Love Band featuring original guitarist Johnny Echols play their final gig in the UK.

There's a moment tonight about half way through 'You Set the Scene', the final track on Love's seminal album 'Forever Changes', when the band momentarily pauses and appears to group around the drum kit then turn to face the audience again as vocalist Rusty Squeezebox sings the words - "This is the time and life that I am living And I'll face each day with a smile For the time that I've been given's such a little while And the things that I must do consist of more than style There are places that I am going This is the only thing that I am sure of And that's all that lives is gonna die And there'll always be some people here to wonder why And for every happy hello, there will be goodbye There'll be time for you to put yourself on." The pause is just a fraction of a second but together with the almost uniform movement of the band onstage it's enough to say "Listen up! This is what this music's all about..these words are what the whole of the album's been leading up to." It's one moment amongst many tonight. The good omens had started early; the all you can eat vegetarian restaurant on Chapel Market is back following a, cough, "health & safety" issue. Yayyyy! £8.95 later and my cousin James and I are watching opening act Elk glide the night off the runway with an engagingly understated set that recalled a Cat Power gig from the Garage back in the 90s. One more band later, the charming but stillinthewayforhalfanhour The Loose Salute and we're onto the main attraction. It's now fifty-two years since 'Forever Changes' was released, and finally that original spin of the coin that has taken this music through multiple band members, record contracts, prison sentences and the death even of mainman Arthur Lee himself, has flattened out. It's not the end because the music will last forever but it is the last time that we'll see one of the original protagonists, guitarist Johnny Echols, up there translating this music to us. So, mixed emoooooshuns as Mr. Jagger would say. One thing is abundantly clear. This band is ace. No two ways about it. It was 1992 when Baby Lemonade supported Love, and immediately after that show Arthur Lee replaced his current incarnation of the band with the four Baby Lemonade members. I remember seeing them in Brighton in 2003 with a full orchestra and that was pretty spectacular, but tonight the band show another side as the stripped down raw garage band. It's great to hear the songs this way as they rip through some tracks from the first, self-titled Love album and final single 'Your Mind And We Belong Together'. Rusty in particular does a great job nailing Arthur's lyrics. Then we're treated to 'Forever Changes' from start to finish in it's entirety. Lead track, the Bryan MacLean penned 'Alone Again Or' is applauded not just at the beginning and end but at every different stage of the song! I don't think I've ever seen that at a gig before, and it sums up perfectly the celebratory feeling here tonight. What happened next is hard to describe. Essentially some musicians played one of the most enduring pieces of popular music. It was wonderful. Maybe have a look at the Glastonbury footage of Love's set from 2003 on YouTube...or watch the star gate sequence from '2001: A Space Odyssey'. I dunno. Out the other end we land back on Earth, and Johnny and friends finish with another trawl through the first two albums as well as a couple of 'new' tracks written back in 2004 when it looked like for a brief moment there might be a new album in the offing. They finish with the only song possible at this point...'Seven & Seven Is' explodes from the stage for just over two minutes, and brings a memorable night to a fittingly seismic end. All that's left is to join the long queue for merch and shake hands with a smiling Johnny Echols. Outside it's still warm and the pavements are full of Friday nighters struggling to engage with the pavement. I walk to the tube and then home and put Tim Buckley's 'Happy Sad' into the cd player. Okay, I made that last bit up...just trying to, y'know.. set the scene. Photos by Dastardly

Also at Islington Assembly Hall, London

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Love Band - Islington Assembly Hall, London, 5/7/2019

Love Band - Islington Assembly Hall, London, 5/7/2019

Love Band - Islington Assembly Hall, London, 5/7/2019

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