In fairness, and Prophet would be the first to agree, as good as he is, Mission Express – including his wife Stephanie Finch, who glides seamlessly between solid band member and exceptional virtuoso on keyboards – are all rock solid and bring the best out in the main man; who absolutely revels in his role in the centre of the stage. This might sound odd, but it genuinely is a rare sight to see someone as established as Prophet still enjoying himself on stage.
Highlights? Where do I start? Little Girl Little Boy featuring the husband and wife duetting like Dolly and Porter stands out, as does the call and response Temple Beautiful complete with squealing guitar solos and Ms. Finch’s earthy keyboards; and; let’s not forget the chord-crunchingly exciting White NightBig City which ended with a crescendo of guitars and keyboards that wouldn’t have been out of place at a punk gig in 1977, which had Prophet grimacing and snarling while throttling his ancient Telecaster.
Stephanie also got the opportunity to show what a good voice she has when called to the front to sing Different Drum much to everyone’s delight.
The band only performed a couple of tracks from the new album and the slow and moody Guilty As A Saint was as good as I’ve ever heard from Prophet – and I’ve heard a lot. As it faded to a close, they suddenly cranked up the amps for Left Hand Right Hand which was dedicated to the Alvin Brothers appeared at the same venue next week; then, as my pulse began racing like a steroid induced sprinter; they swung into my current favourite song, Willie Mays (Is Up To Bat). I could have listened to them for another two or three hours.
After a short charade of leaving the stage Mission Express returned to blow the roof and several wigs off with a blistering Shake Some Action and fan favourite You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp) leaving nearly 300 fans exhausted and sweating on a chilly autumn night. Alan Harrison • www.chuckprophet.com