Nick Harper @ The Hare & Hounds 1/2 - Kings Heath - 06/03/2010 - Live Review
Posted: 10th March, 2010
Standing at the back of Birminghams Hare & Hounds venue earlier in the evening talking to the nights opening artist Vijay Kishore, singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist Nick Harper may well have passed unnoticed. But when he bounced onto the stage shortly afterwards there was no doubting that this was his show.
Morning! he quips as a round of applause breaks out, and he heads off straight into 100 Things. It may be 16 years old, but still justifiably holds its place amongst a collection of 18 tunes tonight that ranged from work off his latest album, The Last Guitar, through an extensive repertoire of his vast back catalogue. There is no doubting that Harper is a showman, easily at home on a stage and can hold an audience with songs aside, plenty of banter and witty repartee. To wit, reaching for a glass of red wine placed at his feet, he declared that he was being even more poncey than usual!, swiftly moving onto a few politically tinged comments; bringing forth laughs aplenty with with David Cameron you always have to remember that the looks exactly like a freshly wanked penis the first of a few ribald jokes of the evening appending to that certain piece of tackle.
But a more serious tone was present when previewing Hey Bomb, a new song that fixes a vision of atom detonation, and Bloom (this song is true), an epic dark tale that truly held the audience in its grip with a spellbinding cracked vocal acrobatics and dark lyric that brings a lump to the throat. With a new guitar at his disposal (Lowden, for the anoraks), Harper nevertheless managed to work out of it a crystal clear delivery with his undisputed ability to work his way up and down a fretboard at an alarming pace, expertly demonstrated on Field Of The Cloth Of Gold ( a fast-paced number with intricate lyric detailing a meeting 500 years ago between the kings of France and England) and The Story Of My Heart, the latter deploying vocal loops and given such a pounding on the strings that one was almost waiting for Harpers party trick the playing on through a string break to occur. Sadly, or luckily, on this occasion it was not to happen.
By the eleventh song of the set, the rousing crowd pleaser Love Junky, having warmed up his fans nicely, he took leave of the stage to play down amongst his people; jumping onto a table top to thrash manically at the guitar, drawing resounding applause from the appreciative throng. Inevitably, as he introduced Aeroplane, a song written about remembrances as a child of being swung around by the legs like an aeroplane by his father, calls went up as to how his dad was (veteran artist Roy Harper). Hes happy. Hes planting trees, trimming his beard.but he should write some more blimmin songs, hes good at that, responds the proud son and heir to the folk troubadour talent.
The Monty Python ditty Galaxy Song cut a brief break away from Harpers own work, before returning to Building Our Own Temple, one of the highlights of the evening and which encompassed a seque into Public Enemys Dont Believe The Hype. Who says this man isnt versatile!
Unquestionably, Nick Harper is on top form tonight. Even with the midnight hour fast approaching, no one is leaving the building until he has ripped through By My Rocket, ending with a playing run through the audience to depart with a flourish through the doors marked exit. A fitting end to the set that yet again contained all the skills that he is best known for. And thats without even mentioning his astonishing guitar ability. It doesnt get much better than this for an evening out.