Nick Harper – Ellowes Hall, Dudley – Wednesday 04/05/2016


Damian goes to see one of his favourite folkies

There are a few English singer – songwriters who I will always push myself out to see if they come to, or near my humble city. Robyn Hitchcock, Martin Stephenson, Ian McNabb, the late Colin Vearncombe, Patrick Duff and last but not least the enigma that is Nick Harper.

Amps plugged in, guitar tuned and away we went with “Two Way Thing” quickly followed by “Radio Silence” a couple of love songs of sorts.

“Breathe” from Nick’s ninth studio album “Nix” is shared and is quite different from what I would associate with this artist. It was as close. I felt as you’ll get to a Sugar Rous song. But maybe that’s just me!! What I do like is when a writer explains where the idea came from for a song and we get just that for the wonderful “Juicy Fruit Girl.” And again with the next song “This is the Beginning” which came from gaining knowledge of his Mom’s youthly shenanigans whilst living in France. The tale being shared by his 96 year old grandfather on a trip to France after his mother’s passing. So it wasn’t just Nick’s Dad that was Rock `n`Roll !!

The wonderful “Blue Sky Thinking” follows, a love song about an imagined or hoped for romance. This is a song that really highlights the intricate guitar picking quality that this guy possesses. “Simple”, “Treasure Island” and “The Kilty Stone” are shared before we get the Pink Floyd song “Shine on you Crazy Diamond”. The young Harper was in attendance when this song was recorded at Abbey Road, which perhaps shows the rock history we are dealing with here. The comedic Monty Python number “Galaxy Song” is up next before the show is ended with the scatty “Love Junky”. As there is nowhere for Mr Harper to go, we are asked to suspend our belief and cheer for an encore. We get a number that Nick has only just learned to play and it’s fittingly a wonderful version of recently departed Prince’s classic “Purple Rain”.

This was a cracking gig in a very odd setting. I can only hope that the students, who stayed to see their tutor perform a master class of musicianship, appreciate what it takes to make a living from the industry.

I first saw this guy as a young lad supporting his Dad at the Town Hall and am frightened to think that he has now clocked up a half century in years. He looks wonderfully well on it. As usual this was a wonderful night out with one of our underrated National treasures. I think its fitting to pass the mantle on and reiterate what Led Zeppelin said  “Hats of to Harper”

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