Cover artwork
Prophet stripped away the voltage but not necessarily the rockish electricity

THE WEEK THAT WAS - Chuck Prophet live at Natasha’s

Packed and Potent

Chuck Prophet at Natasha's Bistro: Likening the sold-out, coffeehouse-flavored atmosphere at Natasha's Bistro & Bar to "a PTA meeting," Prophet stripped away the voltage but not necessarily the rockish electricity from his music for his 90- minute solo acoustic performance. Although it was his first Lexington outing without a band, the West Coast songsmith presented what was essentially a rock `n' roll show for a sit-down crowd. And it worked.

Sure, the quieter strides of ballads like Would You Love Me? and Whole Lot More already had enough folkish ingenuity to fit readily into the solo format. Other works opened up enough for Prophet to color them with playful narratives. Before Sister Lost Soul, for instance, Prophet recalled when he and pal Alejandro Escovedo went in search of a recording studio in the aftermath of an Austin, Texas, ice storm ("Where it got cold for, like, 10 minutes"). Then there were the less-than- complimentary remarks about CNN journalist Anderson Cooper that more curiously prefaced You and Me Baby (Holding On). And let's not forget Apology, which Prophet proudly dedicated to Mel Gibson.

But the real riot involved more purposefully rock-directed fare that packed a potent and resourceful wallop even without a band. Among them: Doubter Out of Jesus (All Over You), which revealed a cool yet pensive groove, and I Bow Down and Pray to Every Woman I See, with its sly, Tom Petty-ish framework.

Sure, there were a few songs that really made fans miss the homemade firepower of Prophet's Mission Express band. Diamond Jim, for instance, sounded great, but one couldn't help but yearn for those fat, Kinks-style power chords that the band version possesses.

But hearing a long-lost relic like Lucky recast as a wily acoustic yarn, or the radio hit Summertime Thing as a suitably seasonal sing-a-long? Those were the products of a crafty pop mind that can locate a rock `n' roll vibe in the most unassuming of performance venues.

This was a rock show even the PTA could love.

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by walter tunis on August 14, 2010 COMMENTS • Filed under Live Reviews (¡Let Freedom Ring!)