Review: Harper – Worthenbury – 27 July
Posted on: Monday, Jul 30, 2007
Goin’ Up The Country, Worthenbury, Friday July 27th
This was the first ever gig in the UK for Australian roots singer and harp player Harper and was a warm up gig prior to his appearance at the Maryport Festival the next day. Now a resident of Michigan he was backed by his young enthusiastic band of 22 year old musicians, Tyler Mac on guitar, Ralph Reitinger on bass and Marc Dixon on drums and the fact that they play over 240 gigs each year in the USA, showed as they were incredibly tight from the very start.
Harper has immersed himself in the culture of the Aborigine people of his homeland and this has led him to introducing the digeridoo into his music and so it was on the opening track I’ll Go Home that we heard the wonderful effect of this instrument as it introduced the rhythm section followed by the guitar and then his superb soulful vocals . This track was taken from the new Blind Pig release, Day By Day as were the next two: Just What You’re Looking For and Sure There’s A Place, all three tracks demonstrating Harper’s superb harmonica.
The next track Does Anybody Really Care followed a short intro about what is happening to the indigenous people before Harper made his first move into traditional blues with an outstanding version of Sonny Boy Williams’ Help Me with an extended harp solo which drew rapturous applause.
Big Brown Land again demonstrated the digeridoo and referred to the view of Australia from the air and was the cue to describe the two instruments called Mary and George in detail.
Way Down Deep Inside was the title of his award winning Aussie release and this was followed by the two final tracks of an hour long first set, the superb rocking Soul Food showcasing the band members in turn and the politically motivated Get Out Of This Mess with its reference to George Bush and the troops in Iraq
The 80 minute second set was as brilliant as the first and again featured the remaining tracks from Day By Day with highlights being Do What Is Right with more wonderful digeridoo, the beautiful sensitive vocals on I Must Be Dreaming and the rocking You Can’t Hide with again an incredible harp solo.
One of only three covers featured the excellent guitar work of Tyler Mac on Don Nix’s Going Back To Iuka… “a little town that you’ve probably not heard of in the north east of Mississippi” – major surprise to hear that not only had everyone heard of the place due to the two visits to Worthenbury of Iuka residents Eddie and Frank Thomas, but that at least three people had visited the place!!
It was a great disappointment that such a superb night had to end but with the tracks Do Whatever You want To and the encore Down To The Rhythm, the title track from his previous Blind Pig release which again featured all the band members, the memorable night ended with Harper proclaiming that he would definitely return.
The audience in the packed little venue showed their appreciation at length at the finale and cleared him out of a stack of cds. Look out next year – a full UK tour is planned.