Roy Harper Sage Gateshead 20 March 2019

roy 1969And O how the sea she roars with laughter
And howls with the dancing wind
To see my stupid poetry burbling” (McGoohan’s Blues, Roy Harper, 1969)

The first time I saw Roy Harper in concert was in 1969. I was 12 years old and Roy was 27. Roy was just about to release Folkjokeopus his third album. The album is notable for the lengthy track “McGoohan’s Blues”, which Harper states was “inspired by actor Patrick McGoohan’s depiction of the establishment rebel in his TV series, The Prisoner“.

Here I am 50 years later seeing Roy once more. Roy is a sprightly 77-year-old and I am 62 years old.

The advertisement for the Sage concert stated: “Renowned folk singer-songwriter Roy Harper is celebrating 50 years of classic tracks including the famed epic ‘McGoohan’s Blues’. In 2013 his album Man & Myth was lauded by press across the UK. Uncut said “Harper’s first album in 13 years is a magnificent, ambitious rejuvenation.” Harper will joined by Bill Shanley and an ensemble of musicians.

HARPER TIXOn why he has decided to tour again, Harper said: “Partly because many of the things I wrote about in McGoohan’s Blues in 1968 are still very relevant 50 years later, and partly because my third record was a watershed moment in my recording life, it’s been long in my mind that I should dust it off and bring it on tour again.”

The concert was in two sets and drew from throughout Roy’s extensive back catalogue. Roy was on good form, chatting with the audience as usual; although he didn’t get quite as much banter (or heckling) in response as he usually does. His voice remains strong and soulful and his passion and commitment is as undiminished as ever. Roy was accompanied by a small string section which gave an added texture to the songs.

So we were treated to some of my favourite Harper songs such as “Don’t You Grieve”, the classic “Another Day” and “Highway Blues”. Roy closed the set with “When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease”. The encore was a more recent song “I Loved My Life”. It was great to see Roy again, still touring and still a delight. I would love to have heard him Roy-Harpersing “I Hate the White Man” but, hey, you can’t always get what you want. Jackie my carer is now a Roy Harper convert, which is great. Me, I had a lovely evening, spent with an old friend.

Setlist. Set 1: Hors d’oeuvres; Time Is Temporary; Don’t You Grieve; Man In the Glass Cage; McGoohan’s Blues. Set 2: Another Day; Drawn to the Flames; The Wolf at the Door; Highway Blues; Hallucinating Light; When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease. Encore: I Loved My Life

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kevin Geraghty-Shewan on July 30, 2020 at 6:53 pm

    I went to this too but not before much soul searching. I’ve seen Roy more times than any other artist (around 17 times I think) and love his music to bits but I always enjoyed seeing him in a smoky backroom of a pub paying a couple of quid on the door and having a very stoned Roy ramble on between songs but when I’ve seen him in big venues, like the RFH for his 60th birthday, I’ve usually found he lacked something being on his “best behaviour” So when I found out he was doing his “final tour” I was disappointed to find it was at the Sage (which I’m not a great fan of anyway) and that the tickets were £50! There was no way I could afford that 😦

    I wasn’t going to go until a couple of days before when someone on Facebook offered a ticket for free (with the request that a donation be given to Charity) so I asked for it. It wasn’t a great ticket – on the side of the balcony near the back, but hey I had one! On the night I was on my way up to the balcony when I was stopped by a steward who said I could swap it for a stall ticket. When they found me a seat it was in row G – result!

    I did enjoy the gig and I’m glad I got to see him again (assuming it is actually his last tour) and I donated to the People’s Kitchen as requested.

    More ranting and some photos here


    • Posted by vintagerock on July 30, 2020 at 7:11 pm

      Hi Kevin

      I know what you mean. I also have seen Roy lots of times and remember gigs in small venues such as Wallsend Buddle arts centre. But hey it was great to see the old guy again; and who knows it may have been our last chance; but then again never say never. I hope to see Roy again one day

      Best wishes Peter


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