Chuck Prophet is a genre all unto himself. Part ‘50s cool and ‘80s jangle with the sense of a big full sound that comes with four bandmates, he delivered on his promise of his 2014 record Night Surfer of crashing waves on last Sunday night at World Café. For 20-plus songs he rocked Philadelphia from head to toe.
The setlist was like a mixtape of Prophet’s favorites from his own catalogue and his record collection. Opening with Lou Reed’s “Rock and Roll Heart” and playing other covers like Michael Nesmith’s “Different Drum” and Flamin’ Groovies’ “Shake Some Action” provided a context for Prophet’s oeuvre. With two microphones and two guitars at his disposal, Prophet weaved his way through his influences and his work with panache and joy. And when he took off with his rocking “Willie Mays Is Up At Bat” and his triumphant Night Surfer track “Tell Me Anything (Turn to Gold),” among others, Prophet proved why his half-filled World Café crowd should certainly be beyond capacity.
His supporting cast was brilliant. Stephanie Finch, Prophet’s wife, layered in keys, harmonies and lead vocals, like on “Different Drum,” and proved to be a vital part of the night’s success. James DePrato, Kevin T. White and Vicente Rodriguez on guitar, bass and drums respectively added textures and dimension to the garage surf California rock.
And no Prophet show would be complete without the closer “You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp),” a song that takes everything great about Prophet and distills it into one grand nugget of rock fun. There was not one pair of feet in the place that was not on cloud nine by the end.
Warren Zanes of The Del Fuegos opened. Showing a little live rust at first as he had not played in concert for quite some time, his confessional rock was a mix of off-putting and honest.