Mick Harvey - Melkweg, 9/09/05

I am going to look a complete idiot here, but I failed to find out the support act's name





A rare treat we thought, a Mick Harvey solo show in the intimate Kleine Zaal... I'll readily admit I'm not a huge afficianado of his stuff, though I think his new album One Man's Treasure, is a belter and I do love his Serge Gainsbourg cover albums, especially Pink Elephants. No matter; when someone of Mr Harvey's pedigree is in town, afficianado or not, you are duty-bound to check him out.


I am going to look a complete idiot here, but I failed to find out the support act's name, despite him playing a captivating set of really witty, heartwarming songs. A tall, thin, balding man with thick-rimmed spectacles and only a miked-up acoustic for company doesn't exactly sound captivating, but believe me, it was. A song about sticking up for his little brother was so beautifully presented it almost had me in tears. He did look vaguely familiar -well, actually he looked a bit like The Really Wild Show's Terry Nutkin and a bit like then geezer who serves me in my local art shop – but that still doesn't make anyone any the wiser. The real tragedy of this review is that you lot won't be able to rush out and see him on this kind of recommendation. Im sorry, but there it is. If anyone has any idea, then drop me a line will you?


Harvey eventually stalked on stage, accompanied by a keyboardist (who turned out to be Gallon Drunk's James Johnston) and drummer (who turned out to be P.J. Harvey accolyte Rob Ellis). Harvey settled himself on a seating arrangement that included a makeshift lectern and a repository for drinks and towels. A sheaf of notes was produced and Mr H started peering at them. What was this? A lecture? Certainly the singer's demeanour suggested this was to be the turn of events. But no, it was merely a checking of lyrics. To be fair to him, Mr. H did say at various points throughout the gig that, as a lot of the songs were relatively new to live performance, he'd have to keep checking the odd line.


Musically the gig was a mix of material, new tracks from One Man's Treasure being interspersed with old and (to this reviewer) very obscure 1980s radio hits from Down Under. The one I did know from the batch of covers, Sad Dark Eyes nearly made me collapse in surprise and happiness. Other highlights were the Nick Cave penned Come Into My Sleep, a smouldering vocal take underpinned by a beautiful swirling arrangement and Come On Spring, a song very much in the same up-beat spirit. A funny Hank Williams Said It Best was world-weariness personified. Shall we say that Mr Harvey imparted a certain boozy authority when playing this? Other highlights were the encore Demon Alcohol (replete with guitar changes mid-song and a "this arrangement is shit" appraisal from Mr H) and a Gainsbourg cover as a farewell. Top night all round, though I wish I knew the name of the support act...


Words: Richard Foster.