Nick Harper – Brilliant gig at St Nicholas Church in Beverley

It was so good to see Nick back on the road again, his same positive self, full of wit, wisdom and invective delivered in his unique style. The voice and guitar were spot on.

I wasn’t quite sure about the venue. Nick in a church didn’t seem right and at times I felt he felt constricted by the setting and that the vacuous nature of the building and formal, rather distantly spaced arrangement of the pews did not create the closeness the performance warranted.

Nick is always one for being creative. He is never prepared to sit back on his laurels. Over the course of the past decade, he has assumed many different variations of his art, extending it to many new dimensions. I have seen him perform acoustic sets of the full range of his material, then exciting, highly political sets with the electrified Wilderness Kids, a set of cover songs for all of the great acoustic guitar giants that visited his (Roy’s) flat in Fordwych road, an elongated performance of his Wiltshire poem, an acoustic act laced with comedy, a surround sound experimental performance, and a wonderfully intimate performance in a small pub in Leeds where the whole audience spontaneously accompanied him on every song (far from the standard singalong). You never quite know what to expect. The range of skills and abilities is wide and immense.

This concert was no exception. He brought something completely different. It was a concert of two halves.

The first half of the show was an electric presentation full of complex tape loops and electronic backing which highlighted the profoundly intimate story of his love for his partner Jackie complete with mystical elements from the album Phantastes. It was brought to life with some amazing electric guitar and Nick’s LNG explanatory introductions. Here, I felt the setting worked in his favour to create an intense atmospheric ambience that suited the fantasy nature of the songs and stories. Nick was in costume with his mad hatter’s hat indicative of the Phantastes fairy-tale nature of the set.

The second half of the show featured Nick at his rambunctious best with his trusty acoustic guitar delivering his songs with gusto. Here, I think the venue was not so conducive. Nick was a little more dislocated from the audience and the vacuousness of the venue worked against him but he none-the-less prevailed and the audience was ecstatic!

If you get the chance to catch him on this minitour don’t miss out! It’s unique! He’ll probably never do it again!

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