Joseph Arthur: The Clubhouse, Tempe, AZ 10/20/06

Following Joseph Arthur’s recent appearance on Late Show with David Letterman, the talk show host announced “I want to go with those people. I would like to be with those people.”   Whatever, Dave exactly meant by that isn’t quite clear, but one thing made sense – Joseph Arthur is intriguing. Touring with a full-fledged 70’s draped band, sparked with the occasional  “Prince” harmonies, the melodic singer-songwriter is taking a groovy approach these days; a break from his moody one man band live performances that incorporated looping techniques.

Playing to a clearly undersold Friday night crowd at The Clubhouse, Arthur and his band clearly didn’t seem undeterred by the hundred or so peeps in attendance.  It’s as obvious as Fergie’s leg appeal, Joseph Arthur is one talented dude, with a knock-dead voice that can rock out dark and brooding, get falsetto fresh or pull off the folkly acoustic singer-songwriter thing.

Incorporating a full band for his fall tour in support of his fifth album, Nuclear Daydream, Arthur had a four-piece section that included Kraig Jarret Johnson of Golden Smog/The Jayhawks, guitarist Jen Turner and a rhythm section.  Displaying his fiery side early on, Arthur stopped the second song to grumble about the feedback in the sound-mix. Almost horrifying the crowd, he later warmed up and made like a boy scout, making “nice” with a ten-year old riding the rail, and bending down to ask for her name.

A true artist, as displayed by his eccentric painted figurines on the drum kit and his guitar, Arthur, using a leaf blower, blew rolls of toilet paper on a poll into the crowd, much to his curious fascination.  On previous tours, Arthur would loop his guitar and paint for the audience on the stage, however, this toilet paper trick appeared less pretentious.

However, it was during a cover of The Stones’ “ Miss You” that Arthur got loose and let his Jagger out.  Despite the show’s technical shortcomings, Joseph Arthur proved to be a true professional, giving his all to a small crowd on a Friday night.  Lets hope he moves onto bigger crowds soon – his oversized talent certainly deserves it. 

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