Friday, May 08, 2009

Nick Harper @ The Horn, St.Albans

I didn't have any expectations at all for this gig. It was a convenient excuse to meet up with m'ex-colleague Kenny and have a few beers and do a few crosswords listening to the Horn's eclectic jukebox. In fact, I told Mrs Stan that I hoped the gig would be cancelled so that I could feign disappointment and we could carry on setting the world to rights and arguing about 3 down.

I don't know what the words "Folk Rock" mean to you, but in my mind they don't translate to "A Good Night Out". However, Nick Harper turns out to be one of the best guitarists I've ever seen, he writes better poetry in his lyrics than many a professional poet, he's a very talented vocalist, a comfortable performer with a real rapport with his audience and he is a more than adequate stand-up comedian.

Sometimes the special effects strayed into what Bill Bailey would describe as "Let's Go Inter-Stellar!", but otherwise the gig was a total delight and made me want to seek out some of his albums and tell everyone I meet that they should too. It also gave me a new appetite for live music.

The back-room at The Horn where Nick played is only big enough for a medium-sized wedding reception, which was great in terms of atmosphere but it must have led to a rather stingy box-office return. Although, saying that, I saw Hue and Cry play a large Glasgow theatre quite a few years ago, and the distant response from the audience led Pat Kane to moan all night that they should have played two nights at "King Tut's" instead. I hope Nick keeps playing these intimate venues, but equally I hope he finds a way to make it pay.

Speaking of which, you should definitely download "Blue Sky Thinking" which was the highlight of the show and very representative of what he's about. Clever lyrics and one man and a guitar making it sound like a whole band's playing.

I think you'll enjoy it, but it won't sound nearly as good on your iPod as it did Live.

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