SINCE arriving in San Francisco 30 years ago, Chuck Prophet has garnered cult appreciation, first in influential alt.country outfit Green On Red, then as a solo artist with backing band the Mission Express, and now he is paying tribute to his adopted home city with current album Temple Beautiful.
Armed with an ear for a melodic hook, a drawl and a talent for an anecdotal set-up, Prophet has all the style required to romanticise his environment, using that classically American combination of roots influences and low-slung rock’n’roll which never seems to grow stale.
Most of this vibrant, infectious, marginally overlong set comprised new material, confirming that Prophet is in a fertile place right now. Dollar Out Of Jesus was a hip white man’s rhythm’n’blues satire, Automatic Blues a burnished boogie, Summertime Thing a frankly feelgood groove, while Prophet’s partner, Stephanie Finch, threw in some time-honoured one-chord keyboard hammering and led a charming country interlude.
Echoes of Tom Petty, Lou Reed and Jonathan Richman abounded, there were Chuck Berry and Flamin’ Groovies covers, but it was hard not to think first of another Bay Area act, Mink DeVille, when the band launched into the effortless strut of White Night, Big City, inspired by the 1978 riots that followed Dan White’s acquittal for the murders of mayor George Moscone and superviser Harvey Milk.