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Total eclipse of the son

03 Jun 2006 / in music and gigs

Nick Harper is the son of legendary singer/songwriter Roy Harper and grew up surrounded by his Dad’s musical friends from some the Britain’s finest bands like The Who’s Keith Moon, and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin. With a pedigree like this it’s hardly surprising to find that Nick is one of the most exciting and talented singer/songwriters around.

You won’t find his songs played on the radio. Instead you’ll find him touring; on stages up and down the country and at festivals. Indeed, this is where I first stumbled across him; at the Cropredy Festival two years ago. He was head and shoulders above all the other acts put together and made a huge impression on me. I couldn’t wait to see him play again, but it’s taken me all that time to find a gig I could get to. And that was last night at the Bath Fringe Festival.

Three days ago I hurt my back and was very nervous about going to a gig where potentially I couldn’t sit down. Thankfully we managed to get seats just three metres away from the stage where we could sit and enjoy every note, every expression, every joke and every word of every song.

His website boasts:
To call Nick a superlative singer/songwriter could put his highly lauded guitar talent in the shade, and to call him a guitarist’s guitarist might slight his distinctive, soulful voice and passionate songs. Not forgetting the wild ride that is one of his live shows – from personal introspection to biting political satire via a charmingly caustic wit that would make Groucho Marx proud. He often segues from his own compositions to well-loved covers he makes his own – he takes on Presley, Zappa, Jeff Buckley, Led Zeppelin, Monty Python and Public Enemy (yes, on an acoustic guitar). He also has the alarming ability to break guitar strings almost by sheer force of will… and then change them without dropping a beat. For over a decade, he has been dazzling audiences and reviewers alike with this heady mix of virtuosity, boyish charm, showmanship and sheer bravado.

Having seen him up close yesterday, I can confirm that all these incredible claims are 100% true.

I found myself smiling my way through the whole two hour performance. There he is: just one man and an acoustic guitar. He produces sounds as a big as a whole five-piece rock band and then a sublime delicacy of touch that has you reaching for a hankie. Sometimes he hits the strings so hard you wonder how little shavings of his plectrum don’t litter the floor. As if his jaw-dropping guitar playing wasn’t enough, damnit, the man is a wondrous vocalist, too! He sings like an angel or a rock star by turns and then, a moment later, turns into a comedian.

Even if you have never heard a note of his songs before, check out one of Nick’s fantastic performances for yourself. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

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