Steve Harley and Acoustic Band – The Atkinson, Southport – 27th May 2022
Steve Harley is more than a world-class songwriter, he is a sensitive entertainer, compelling raconteur and a brilliant interpreter. Never more so when he visits a favourite town; Southport being one of the places where he enjoys coming to write music and perform. The first half of his enchanting set, which opened with a new version of Love Compared With You, was dominated by music from his latest album Uncovered which focuses mainly on songs he has chosen by infamous pop music writers such as Bowie, (Absolute Beginners) McCartney, (a lesser known Beatles classic I’ve Just Seen A Face) Jagger (Out Of Time). Respect was also made to the writing of Robbie Burns, with Ae Fond Kiss his fateful love song to his Nancy. Eddie Reader’s compassionate version performed with equal measure by Steve.
It was five songs in before he gave us a Cockney Rebel favourite Judy Teen, which made all the audience ‘happy’. Not that there was a soul in the audience not enjoying the earlier songs all presented in his own inimitable manner. His version of Cat Stevens’ How Can I Tell You was delivered with eloquent, poignant gestures. Sadly confined to sitting these days he can still, with a wave of his hand, a slight sway of his shoulders and a flicker of his eye, be subtley expressive in portraying emotional lyrics.
He does like to ramble and when he gets going, his apparent off-the-cuff anecdotes are delivered in a manner that enhances the song and the whole performance. These are not over-rehearsed or incoherent mumblings and reveal a close connection between him, the song and the audience.
Typical of this was his recollection of his positive feedback from Crispin Hunt from The Longpigs after sending him his softened version of the tragic, romantic song Lost Myself. With tongue in cheek he informed us that he yet he has to hear from Sir Paul and Sir Mick!!!
His final visit in this set from his latest album was the Southport penned Only You before Mr Raffles (Man It Was Mean) completed the first half and left us enticingly anticipating further Cockney Rebel gems.
The early part of the second half was much in the same vein, visiting more recent material from Uncovered and Quality Of Mercy, in the early stages but began with Stranger Comes To Town. Within the performance, Steve revealed that it’s more important what his songs mean to the listener and this particular song of all his music is one that has a special resonance with me.
In addition to these covers, he includes a song he wrote on the parental support he lovingly wants to give to his son leaving for university Journey’s End.
The latter end of the evening was more dedicated to acoustic versions of Cockney Rebel material. Coast Of Amalfi, The Best Years Of Our Lives with the whole show brought to a storming end with Sebastian. His acoustic band of violinist/guitarist Barry Wickens, Oli Hayhurst on double bass, and Dave Delarre on lead guitar, displayed exceptional musicality throughout the evening and were absolutely remarkable in this stunning finale.
Now shunning his rock star theatricals the evening concluded with, of course, Come Up And See Me. The adoring audience’s sustained standing ovation warmly returned the love meted out from Steve during the enchanting performance which, think on his insistence and adding to the enjoyment of the evening, was joyfully phone-free!!
Steve Harley will be performing within driving distance in Kendal mid – June. Tempting!!
Categories: Live Reviews