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Another trip into Harperspace

30 Oct 2006 / in music and gigs
I blogged about Nick Harper back in June and told you what an unbelievably exciting musician he is: his sublime vocals, his wondrous guitar playing, his intricately crafted, riffy songs with poetic lyrics, and the fact that he can play a whole band’s worth of heavy rock on a simple acoustic guitar.

We went to see him play again last night in the back room of pub in Swindon. We took Cleo, aged 16, and Rupert, 12, as they really love live music and Rupert is learning guitar. I thought that he, in particular, should see the Nick Harper musical genius at work.

We stood right at the front so as not to miss anything. From the very first few bars of the first song I could sense among the audience jaws dropping with incredulity. Cleo and Rupes had never seen anything like this before. Unleashed on stage, Nick gives everything he has to a performance, attacking his songs in breathtaking style.

Perhaps one or two songs into the set an Irish woman in her forties standing right at the front began heckling Nick – asking him to play Gary Moore’s ‘Parisienne walkways’. He politely declined. She – impolitely – refused to let it go and continued to plead and heckle between the next few songs. I thought she was pissed. Moth thought she was ill. Whatever she was GaryMooreWoman was in danger of upsetting Nick who was way too nice to her for too long. In the end security removed her, but she had upset the rhythm of the gig. A pox on her.

Nick hits his guitar strings so hard that they frequently break. To other guitarists this is an occupational hazard. But Nick has turned this inconvenience into a party-piece. Last night he broke two strings. The first one went towards the end of a song which he completed and as he changed the string he recited a long and beautiful poem evoking landscapes and history, called ‘A Wiltshire Tale‘ which Nick wrote.

Much later, during his twenty-minute epic thrash groove ‘Headless’ which morphs into ‘Love is music’ and back again, another string went. Unconcerned, he simply kept singing while quickly selecting, attaching and tuning the new string before joining back in with his vocal again.

He played a couple of songs I hadn’t heard before (and we do have everything he’s ever recorded, and quite a lot he hasn’t) and finally completed more than two hours on stage with Zappa’s ‘Titties and beer’, singing the parts of both himself and the devil and sometimes getting mixed up to great comedy effect.

That talentless oicks such as Justin Timberlake have achieved fame and fortune and Nick Harper hasn’t is yet more proof of the unfairness of it all and that there is no god. Don’t let the fact that you may not have heard of this man who oozes talent stop you from checking him out on his next tour. You must go and see Nick Harper soon. Trust me on this.

As the rapturous applause died down, Gary Moore’s ‘Parisienne walkways’ played through the PA.

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