Friday 12th March 2010 The Masque provides an unlikely setting for the return of Nick Harper, who is promoting his new CD The Last Guitar, the long awaited follow up to the acclaimed album Miracles For Beginners. There was support from the ever reliable Jeff Jepson, who filled in for the Dead Cities. Jeff warmed up the cool venue with a brief acoustic set of heart felt love songs before heading off to play another gig in Studio 2 at Parr Street. He’s also responsible for recording and co-producing music for the next act. Where’s does he find the time?T-J & Murphy are an acoustic duo who have built up a large following on the local scene over the past couple of years. There’s great chemistry and interplay between the two players. The audience was building up around them as they took to the stage. It was a rather subdued, mellow set highlighted by tasteful finger picking guitars and gorgeous vocal harmonies. One song about a fourteen year soldier killed during the Second World War was a poignant moment in their set, which consisted of highlights from their current CD Weary Nights as well as a couple of new songs.
Where T-J & Murphy displayed subtlety and restraint, Nick Harper held nothing back as he stormed the stage. Armed with just an open tuned acoustic guitar and multiple effects, Harper bashed his instrument at full throttle. It was a bombastic performance, which served as a wake up call to those who may have fallen asleep.
Harper is a skilled guitarist and expressive vocalist and he didn’t have to try too hard to win over the crowd. He has a loyal following and they were clearly delighted to see him back in the city. The full sound and vocal delivery on stage could make the average band sound modest in comparison. However, there was a lack of definition in the guitar, with the acoustics bouncing off the wall, and despite the engineer’s best efforts the overall sound wasn’t great. The material wasn’t really my bag either but that didn’t matter too much as Harper gave it everything and was quite a showman.
The CD The Last Guitar is available now from Nick’s website harperspace.com
Stuart Todd runs and hosts the award-winning Liverpool Acoustic Live music events with Graham Holland. Stuart was formally in the group Triad before leaving to do solo work. In recent years he has had a successful partnership with local classical guitarist and composer Neil Campbell with whom he formed the duo Campbell Todd. He has also been in the band The Freebies and involved with a number of creative writing projects. His current band is called Three Minute Hero.