One of the most imaginative choices in Ray Davies' already inspiring Meltdown line-up was The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, tucked away in the Queen Elizabeth Hall while the main protagonist worked his magic on the Festival Hall stage.
Brown is used to such a position out of the glare of the spotlight, but although he remains primarily known for one song and a succession of zany stage performances in the 1960s and 1970s, he showed here just how much more there is to his output.
The audience knew that too, well versed in Brown's thoroughly invigorating stylistic blend of music. Many of them knew, too, that The Legendary Pink Dots would provide similarly wide ranging support, and so it proved, the Anglo-Dutch trio exploring elements of English pastoral folk and dub on an ambient sound canvas, frequently impressing with their sonic pallette if not fully convincing with the amount of live performance on stage.
Brown's performance was live, all live, and from the moment he arrived in the crowd to the tolling of a bell, he had us in the palm of his hand. Fans of his colourful stage shows were not to be disappointed as he leapt around the stage in a colourful selection of garments, vivid yellows and oranges doing battle with more sombre, clerical-type outfits of blue.
The 'crazy world' was much in evidence, the band arriving with their masks on and playing through a terrific selection of back catalogue highlights, beginning with a taut Time / Confusion then running through a powerful cover of I Put A Spell On You, an impressively vital Devil's Grip and the surprisingly languid Kites, where hints of Chinese rhythms could be found.
Brown himself was an engaging and quirky front man, enjoying the interplay between an amazingly virtuosic keyboard player (Lucie Rejchrtova), the primal drumming of Sam Walker and the intricate bluesmanship of guest guitarist Clem Clempson, who, in t-shirt and jeans, looked for a moment as if he had wandered into the wrong gig.
The crowning glory, of course, was Fire, prefaced in full majesty by its Nightmare prelude and Fanfare. Brown had his traditional crowning glory, too, his headgear now alight with a three-foot flame. Rarely has the QEH seen something so incendiary, and the intensity of the performance - as white hot as the headgear - revealed the music in all its demonic glory.
While this was naturally the high point of the evening there were substantial encores, not least a cover of The Animals' Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, where Brown's partner in crime was the impressively voiced Z Star.
At no point, however, did Brown and his gang forget that this was a night of entertainment, and the masks, costumes and dancers, the latter just a touch overdone, contributed to the exotic thrill of music which, lest we forget, is nearly 50 years old but still incredibly modern in appearance.