Roy Harper at Liverpool Philharmonic: Live Review
It’s one of those days over in Liverpool and we go searching for the 12th man at silly mid on and find Roy Harper at the Philharmonic…
Words: Anthony Firmin
Billed as ‘The Last Tour” after so many great songs, great albums and great gigs, the 77 year old Roy Harper is saying farewell, but when he sprints onto the stage he neither looks nor acts like a man of his age. As he starts with Hors D’Ouvres (also known as The Judge) and it is clear neither his voice nor his playing has deteriorated, it is also an interesting return to this venue has he was banned following his last show here many years ago as part of the audience had rushed the stage, clambering over the chairs in the process; no fear of that tonight as most of the audience are going to need zimmer frames.
The set is significantly different to the one he played two and a half years ago in Manchester but still retaining some of the old favourites that are so well loved.
He has retained backing musicians but has slimmed down his string section and has added percussion and drums allowing some rocking out to occur but not enough to spoil his perfectly groomed hair and beard. Sometime Placebo member Fiona Brice still dots the music sheets for Harper as well as playing violin and keyboards. It works perfectly with the music, lifting it where necessary and adding those subtle nuances elsewhere.
Even at this grand old age he is not afraid to introduce new material. He refers to his trial by media with special mention to the Daily Mirror in The Man In The Glass Cage, The Wolf At The Door shows his lyrics haven’t lost their bite and I Loved My Life is interestingly reflective.
Of the older material Don’t You Grieve and McGoohan’s Blues are phenomenal in the first set but the best is in the second half Another Day is truly beautiful and When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease is perfect.
At the end of the show, to rapturous applause and a standing ovation, he comments on the motivation for this final tour “I don’t want to be wheeled out on a stretcher”. He does give us a glimmer of hope by suggesting that if he is capable there maybe a “Last Tour Part 2.” My fingers are crossed as I leave the venue singing to myself “when an old guitarist never leaves the stage…”