"there is self-effacing humour, plenty of banter with words of introduction to the songs, and he responds with witty retorts to all the friendly heckles that hes thrown during the show"
The main man Nick Harper is a troubadour, an outlaw who shuns commercial success he wont sign to a major label or play larger venues - and doesnt believe in the standard three minute song. His father always gets a mention in reviews as hes renowned folk-singer and guitarist Roy Harper, sometimes reverentially spoken of as the fifth member of Led Zeppelin.
Refreshingly, Nick doesnt seem to have the usual son of a famous father hang-ups. He refers to his dad during the set and sings a song called Aeroplane comparing escapism to his dad whirling him around by his ankles when he was little. He also tells us hes stolen his dads idea for a concept album about the seven ages of man and made it into a four minute song. This is the outstanding By My Rocket Comes Fire - the title is part of the poignant refrain which runs through the song and seven ages of man, symbolising the spark of life which is finally extinguished - I hope that when Im done, theyll say my speck of dust inspired....
There are a few other radio friendly songs the lovely The Verse That Time Forgot, the frenetic version of Guitar Man spliced with Led Zeppelins Whole Lotta Love, the Dylanesque The Field of the Cloth of Gold and the angry Karmageddon. His audience interaction is warm and very funny there is self-effacing humour, plenty of banter with words of introduction to the songs, and he responds with witty retorts to all the friendly heckles that hes thrown during the show. At one point he flirts with an audience member singing her bursts of the disco hit (Eye to Eye) Contact and asking her to dance on stage as eye candy for the show (she declined).
Nick also takes every opportunity to show off his astounding guitar skills and clearly hes a hugely talented guitarist, strumming fast and furious, and playing with an open tuning style in many of the songs. The audience indulges and encourages his guitar meanderings - the last song in the main set Love is Music lasts for 23 minutes and is expertly interwoven with Jeff Buckleys Grace and Blurs Out of Time. Hes a gifted vocalist too and able to do gentle, almost feminine vocals, through raspy and angry rock, to swooping vocal acrobatics and a falsetto comparable to Jeff Buckleys.
He saves the best to last with Frank Zappas Titties and Beer and his own Blood Song played for the encore, both requested by the crowd, as well as his current single Blue Sky Thinking which is raising funds for LoveHopeStrength, a cancer charity founded by Mike Peters, and has reached number one in the iTunes Folk Chart. Titties and Beer is a rambling song about the devil swallowing the writers girlfriend and beers, and Nick quite literally strings it out with his dexterous guitar work and a snarling voice to illustrate the devils lines, with some improvised additions about Bush and Blair and a snippet of Gordon Brown, finer temptress.... Blood Song is spine-tingling and a good finish to the set with a hypnotic beating pulse tapped out on his guitar.
Sadly, after nearly two and a half hours, the crowd has thinned out mostly through practicalities of getting the last train or tube home. We didnt get to see Nicks famous trick of effortlessly changing a string whilst still singing, but its all pretty impressive stuff and an extremely high energy performance. Its difficult not to be in awe of the fact that he maintains this sort of enthusiasm and skill level night after night.
I highly recommend catching his live show, though you have to be prepared to stand in admiration of his guitar wizardry for over 2 hours, or see him at a festival over the summer for the super-charged but condensed version.
sorry, we currently have no gigs listed for this act.