Lindsay Mitchell’s guitar heroics help make the reformed Prism’s debut a night to remember

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By Steve Newton

Considering all the media hype surrounding the recent Prism reformation–all of which hit the presses before the renewed lineup even had a chance to perform live–it wasn’t surprising that armchair music critics and opponents of ’70s rock were skeptical of the current band’s potential.

But anyone who ever sang along to “Spaceship Superstar” or played air guitar to “Open Soul Surgery” would have been impressed after seeing the band’s Vancouver debut last Friday (January 29) at 86 Street.

I must admit that I was a little uncertain myself at first. It’s true that local top-40 act Simon Kaos had done an admirable job in striving to become one of Vancouver’s top club draws, but I still questioned the idea of putting their keyboardist and singer into the spots vacated by original Prism members John Hall and the late Ron Tabak.

“Prism’s just another club band now,” scoffed one non-believer as I left the Yale in time to catch the band’s midnight show. ‘Have a good time at Simon Kaos,” he laughed.

Those remarks didn’t linger long in my mind, though, because as soon as I walked into 86 Street and heard the band kicking royal butt on “Take Me to the Kaptin” I knew who’d have the last chuckle. There was local guitar hero Lindsay Mitchell, looking lean and hungry as he belted out familiar power chords; there was Rocket Norton, pounding skilfully on his super-sounding Ayotte custom drum kit; and there was the new kid, singer Darcy Deutsch, sounding just enough like Ron Tabak to get the band’s old sound across but adding his own distinct vocal touch as well.

Simon Kaos my ass. This was definitely Prism, 1988-style.

Although a goodly number of the 700 or so in attendance last Friday seemed like they were there more to be seen that to hear the night’s band, the real Prism fans that showed up welcomed the group wholeheartedly, and reveled in a well-balanced mix of tender ballads (“Virginia”, “A Night to Remember”) and rugged rockers (“Nickels and Dimes”, “See Forever Eyes”).

The latter tunes were given a harder, more aggressive edge than their original versions, and it was obvious from the start that Mitchell, Norton, and bassist Al Harlow hadn’t lost the spark that made Prism such a hit in its heyday. New keyboardist Andy Lorimer also pulled his weight, and his background vocals fit in exceptionally well.

After dedicating the song “Covergirl” to slain Vancouver model Dorothy Stratten, and remembering Ron Tabak with “It’s Over”, Prism encored with “Spaceship Superstar”, the opening track of its first LP, while the flying saucer on the 86 Street ceiling made like it was still Expo and kicked briefly into life.

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