Chuck Prophet, Tom Hamilton Play WXPN’s World Cafe
|Prophet and the Mission Express,
World Cafe Live, 5/24/12
Chuck Prophet rolled into Philadelphia’s World Café on Thursday evening alongside songwriter Tom Hamilton to play an engaging show at WXPN’s cozy Walnut Street venue. Prophet, who was touring in support of his 2012 masterpiece Temple Beautiful with his excellent backing band The Mission Express, played a tight 20-plus song set that spanned his most recent solo albums and left behind a taste of his beloved San Francisco.
It did not take long for Prophet and his band, which is comprised of keyboard player Stephanie Finch, guitar player James DePrato, bassist Kevin White, and drummer Kyle Caprista, to infuse energy into the show. The band opened the set with an extended take of “Storm Across The Sea,” where he and DePrato began the first in a night-long exchange of well-executed guitar licks that showed off their virtuosity both as individuals and as a duo. Finch, who is also Prophet’s wife, took the mic for lead vocals on one of her own songs and performed a fun duet with the bandleader on “Little Girl, Little Boy.”
Prophet played a decent portion of Temple Beautiful while regaling the audience with the inspiration for the record, including San Francisco’s Harvey Milk and the Mitchell Brothers. Among the selections from the album were “Castro Halloween,” “White Knight, Big City,” an interactive “Temple Beautiful,” and a fantastic take of “Willie Mays At Bat.” Prophet also dedicated “The Left Hand & The Right Hand” to “brothers everywhere,” including Liam and Noel Gallagher: “two brothers who need each other more than they think.”
Among the backend of Prophet’s set were covers of Bruce Springsteen’s “For You” and “San Francisco’s National Anthem” – the Flamin’ Groovies “Shake Some Action.” The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the lengthy version of Prophet’s biggest song to date, “Summertime Thing,” which was not only memorable for how well the band played the track, but also some entertaining dancing from the crowd assembled directly in front of DePrato.
Hamilton (Brothers Past, American Babies) set the tone for the evening with an intimate acoustic set where he matched his music with a keen wit, mixing in jokes between songs to enliven the atmosphere of the show. The Philadelphia-area songwriter was a great choice for the opener, as his own songs seemed to mesh with the style of Prophet’s material. In addition to his own material, Hamilton closed out his short time on stage with a well-done cover of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.”