Club Helsinki Hudson
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Review by Seth Rogovoy
(HUDSON, N.Y.) – For those who perennially need their faith restored that rock ‘n’ roll music can be intelligent and entertaining, thoughtful and fun, Chuck Prophet comes around at least once a year to demonstrate that it can and does, as he did on Saturday night to Club Helsinki Hudson.
With the expert assistance of his five-piece band, the Mission Express, featuring his wife, Stephanie Finch – “the brains behind pa,” as he puts it — on keyboards and backup vocals, Prophet played a generous set of his smart, catchy brand of rootsy rock that, importantly, never draws too much attention to itself nor takes itself too seriously.
It did, however, please the brain and the ears – as well as the part of you that makes you want to dance. There are lessons to be learned here. Aspiring rockers may want to study Prophet’s stage performance, as well as his songcraft, to see how it all gets put together in the post-Beatles, post-modern era.
Prophet entertains with a bemused nonchalance that belies an awesome talent. His songs – drawing equally on blues, country, pop, and soul — range from cinematic stories to sociocultural critique to confessional heartbreak, but always with a clever narrative strategy. His narrators could well be the spawn of Randy Newman’s narrators, and like that elder master of pop irony, he gives voice to them with a jaded, arch delivery that is as much persona as it is personable. That he doesn’t look the part, also much like Newman, also makes his live shows even more of a treat.