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Hats off to Harper



Nick Harper, The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh


Trapping in one hour the riches and sheer energy that Nick Harper brings to the terms guitarist, singer and songwriter must be the epitome of pouring a gallon into a pint pot.


Within four songs here he had moved from amorous philosopher, with a talent for guitar improvisations that sound like a creative reservoir has been breached, to a Bach chorister with an improbable vocal range, to being genially approving of one politician (Ivo Morales) and caustically dismissive of most of the others.


Breathe, which possibly owes as much to Jeff Buckley as it does J.S. Bach, isn’t just a tour de force of vocal lines that make absolutely no concessions to the need to take in oxygen while soaring through the octaves. It has a guitar arrangement that’s a feat of harmonics and detuned, retuned and otherwise manipulated strings in itself. And it’s all presented as if it’s no big deal.


Elsewhere he’s more swashbuckling, achieving rock band momentum and answering a request for Purple Rain (his online response to Prince’s passing) with lung-bursting commitment and fret-melting passion.


It’s an exhilarating, emotional roller-coaster of a show that incorporates lost teenage love, family recollections, the exuberantly finger-picked arpeggios of Blue Sky Thinking and if not a first, then a rarity – no broken strings to replace while he keeps singing. If live music contains vitamins, and your reviewer is convinced it does, then you’ll get all you need from the man they call Harpic.


From The Herald, August 17, 2016


Nick Harper plays The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, Sunday, August 21 to Saturday, August 27; Weem Inn, Aberfeldy, Sunday, August 28; and String Theory, Hawick, Monday, August 29.






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