In some parallel dimension Chuck Prophet is a star, though for the real-world fans he’s amassed over the past three decades he may as well already be one. In his 25-plus-year career he’s established himself as a minor god in the roots-rock pantheon. Certainly Prophet stands as a revered writer’s writer, his catalogue overflowing with insightful character studies. The music itself combines the provincial street poetry of Lou Reed with roots-riffs and the jangle of power-pop, all propelled with a passion and soul.
Over the past several years, Prophet’s music has been heard in several hit television series including “True Blood” (HBO), “Californication” (Showtime), and “Sons of Anarchy” (FX), but the key to understanding both the man and his music is in the live performance. This review of a show across the pond in Leeds (UK) helps explain why:
Live At The Brudenell – Acts of Mesmeriem
“In an alternate universe Chuck Prophet is playing the arenas. His anthemic songs, bravado and showmanship propelled him there. In our universe he plays The Brudenell Social Club every couple of years and builds Springsteen-length sets into acts of mesmerism. Chuck shapes the two hour show so that it builds to anthemic choruses and guitar solos toward the end before gentling down a little and sending us off into the night – it’s a very professional piece of work.
At the same time, Prophet plays with the concept of rock and roll. He invites us to criss-cross the divide between rock image and rock reality, playing small (but cool) venues with tunes that capture the big picture. Breaking the music with regular chats and tales, always with a wink that says “this is how rock and roll works, you and I know it’s a game – play along and we’ll have a great time”. And we do. Chuck makes us believe in this terrific rock and roll show and we feel honoured to get to witness it.
Chuck seems to be really enjoying performing and gets more and more into it as he lets rip on the guitar. He clowns around, mugs and grimaces, involving all the band as he draws first one then another into play offs. Between his own personal characterful solos and his sideman with bottleneck slide, we are well-served for guitar and they build in substance and momentum as the set reaches its peak. Awash with tunes, rock, swagger and shared history, Chuck Prophet tries to ease the audience back into the real world as the set winds down and they leave, ready to proselytise again.
Please catch Chuck Prophet and The Mission Express when they come near your town.”
Chuck Prophet. Always edgy, always unpredictable, a reminder of how potent straightforward melodic pop/rock can be. Hope to see you there!