Archive for the ‘Roy Harper’ Category

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

Pink Floyd at the Knebworth Festival. Knebworth Park, 5th July 1975

Pink Floyd at the Knebworth Festival. Knebworth Park, 5th July 1975
Line-up: Pink Floyd; Steve Miller Band; Captain Beefheart; Roy Harper and Trigger; Linda Lewis; Graham Chapman (Monty Python); DJ’s John Peel & Pete Drummond.800px-Knebworth_House_-_Flickr_-_foshieThis was my second visit to Knebworth, after seeing the Allman Brothers headline at the first festival in 1974. A group of mates had organised a coach to take us down there; it left on the Friday night (after closing time of course) from outside the Londonderry pub and got us to the site in the early hours of Saturday morning. The line-up for the day was pretty strong, but we were all there to see the Floyd play Dark Side of the Moon. Attendance was much higher than the previous year, there seemed to be a lot of people there. Ticket price was a bargain at £2.75 (one day I really must try to do a comparison with today’s prices). Linda Lewis opened the day and was her usual chirpy self; a great start to the festivities. Jesus was dancing down the front. Monty Python’s Graham Chapman kept popping up to entertain us between bands, although some of his humour was lost in the vast space between stage and crowd. Peel was DJ for the day (as was the norm for festivals in those days) along with Pete Drummond. floydknebprogNext up was Roy Harper, a favourite of mine whose set was in two parts; the first featuring Roy playing acoustically with a small orchestra conducted by David Bedford. He then strapped on his electric guitar and was joined by his band Trigger which featured Chris Spedding on guitar (ex Jack Bruce band, and soon to be solo star with “Mororbikin'” 🙂 ), Dave Cochrane on bass and Bill Bruford on drums (ex Yes and King Crimson). Roy had a chat with us all, as he always did, and played some great songs including the classic “Another Day”. The late great and magnificent Captain Beefheart booglarised us, confusing some of the audience who just thought he was weird (which of course he was, but he was also excellent). Steve Miller was next. We’d all heard the classic song “The Joker” of course, but looking at published setlists of his performance that day, it seems that he didn’t play it (which I find hard to believe, bet we were disappointed); to be honest I don’t recall much about his set. There was then a long wait before Floyd came on. Soon two spitfires were flying overhead to herald Floyd’s arrival on stage. The show was similar to that which I had seen at Newcastle Odeon a year previously; they had their large circular screen, and the first half of their set featured new songs which would ultimately appear on Wish You Were Here and Animals. The second half was Dark Side of the Moon, with Echoes as the encore. floydknebtixJust before the start of Dark Side of the Moon a plane flew down over the crowd (travelling down a wire from the lighting tower) and crashed into the stage. And then came the familiar opening voice “I’ve been mad for f***ing years, absolutely years…..” and the haunting laughter….and we were off, witnessing the last performance of DSOTM by the Floyd with Roger Waters. It would be another 30 years until I saw this line-up play some of it again at Live 8 in Hyde Park; but that’s a story for a few days time. The sound wasn’t great from where we were sitting, but it was amazing to see them perform their classic album in a field on a cool summer’s evening. Echoes was the perfect closer for the day. Then it was out of the field through the crowds and campsites (and chants of “Wally”) and back on bus, and up the A1. Actually I think we were missing one guy, and had to wait a little before the driver decided he would leave without him. We then saw the guy hitching at the side of the road and picked him up. We were back in the early hours of Sunday morning, tired but with the sound of Echoes still running through our heads.
My friends John and Susan were also on the coach. Susan’s memories of the day: I don’t remember very much about the acts apart from Pink Floyd and I think that was because I was so thankful that it meant the festival was almost over! I remember the day as sitting on a blanket in a damp field amongst thousands of people (and a few small dogs), with mist and drizzle falling pretty much all day, being absolutely starving and having to use the most horrendous bathroom facilities I had ever encountered. I remember being terrified that we would miss the bus home, and I have never been so thankful as I was to see the Toll Bar on that Sunday morning!
Setlist: Raving and Drooling (Sheep); You’ve got to be Crazy (Dogs); Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1 to 5); Have a Cigar (with Roy Harper); Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 6 to 9); Speak to Me; Breathe; On the Run; Time; Breathe (Reprise); The Great Gig in the Sky; Money; Us and Them; Any Colour You Like; Brain Damage; Eclipse. Encore: Echoes. The image of Knebworth House is reproduced here through the permissions of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Roy Harper Manchester Bridgewater Hall 25th October 2013

Roy Harper Manchester Bridgewater Hall 25th October 2013
roy2 It’s interesting seeing how time has affected some of my old heroes, as they reach their later years. In some cases their health has failed, and their performance and voice is a shadow of former glories; while for others, the years have been kinder and maturity and experience of stage and life have added to their concert outings. Roy Harper is in the latter category. He looks well; slim, fit, alert and his wit, sarcasm and performance are as engaging as they ever were. The young angry folk singer that I first saw almost 45 years ago seems a wiser, calmer soul, at peace with himself, his music and the friends who filled Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall to see him perform, chat with him. harangue him, and listen to songs old and new.
I arrived late, just before 8pm and a couple of minutes before Roy joined special guest Jonathan Wilson on stage. The roadworks have returned to the M62, and the pouring rain and spray slowed my journey across the Pennines. As Roy joined us, a lady came down to the front and handed him a couple of roses; he took hold of both her hands and thanked her before he started the first song. A fitting start to the evening. Like all Roy Harper concerts these days, there is a feeling of a coming together of friends, reinforced by the usual Harper banter between the man and his audience. “Show us your bus pas Roy” shouted one guy. “Hold on. I may just have it on me.” replied Roy. He did, and he held it up for all of us to see. Roy has been playing a short tour of three dates to promote his new album “Man & Myth” which has been receiving great reviews from critics and fans alike. roy1 The tour started at the Festival Hall a few days ago, popped into his hometown of Manchester last night, and rounds off in Bristol tomorrow. Being the only northern date, it attracted fans from all over the north of England and several Scottish hecklers were in attendance. Roy has been accompanied by Jonathan Wilson and a string and brass section for the concerts. He opened with old favourite “Highway Blues”, and his set also featured several songs from the new record: The Enemy, Time Is Temporary, Heaven Is Here, January Man, and The Stranger. This was the first time that I’d heard the new tracks, and they all sounded strong, and quite typical Roy. There was a short interval. Roy also sang old favourites “Girl from the North Country”, “Another Day” and closed with “Me and My Woman”, all of which benefited from the strings and horns. He returned to sing a beautiful version of “When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease”, and thank us all for coming “I’d like to do it again; if the scales come out right and allow me”. He admitted to being quite nervous about playing in his home town. He needn’t have been. This was classic Roy at his best.
The concert finished just after 10.30pm. I was expecting to get home by 1am, but there was an accident on the A1 near the Harrogate turn off, which caused a 10 mile tail back and a 2 hour delay. I finally reached home at 3am.

Roy Harper 100 Club London 19 Jan 2007

Roy Harper 100 Club 19 Jan 2007
roytix100club I went with David to see Roy Harper at the legendary 100 Club on 19th January 2007. Roy played a run of shows at the London club, featuring one of his classic albums in its entirety each night. I think we got Stormcock that night, along with a selection of Roy favourites (I remember him playing White Man). This is the only time that I’ve been to the 100 Club, although I’ve walked past many times, wondering what it was like inside. The club is a great little venue for an intimate concert, and it was packed to the walls for Roy’s gig. photoroy3 You could hardly move, and getting a good view of the small stage wasn’t easy. Roy was his usual amicable self, with lots of chat with the crowd. Sadly a drunken guy was heckling him and threw his shirt at Roy, which hit him in the face. Roy carried on and handled it as well as anyone could. Roy seems to attract some crazy people as well as friends to his gigs. Roy did a signing session after the show, and I bought a copy of the Passions of Great Fortune lyric book, which he kindly signed for me. Then David and I walked back to our hotel somewhere along the Euston Road and we were up early in the morning to catch our train back up North and home.
This is the last of my posts on Roy. I’ve seen him a couple of times since this gig, including a show at the Sage, which I went to with Laura, where he supported Joanna Newsom, and his 70th birthday concert at the Roya Festival Hall a couple of years ago, which I went to with David. I have already blogged on those shows. I hope I get the chance to see Roy again one day. He is playing a couple of festivals this summer, but I’m not aiming to go to along. Maybe next year. Soon, as Roy wrote in my book (see scan :)).

Roy Harper Newcastle Tyne Theatre 2003

roytynetheatre I’ve spent the last ten years or so reconnecting with some of my favourites bands and artists. Roy Harper is one of those. I went along to this show at the Tyne Theatre with David, not having seen Roy live for around 15 years, and was really looking forward to seeing him again. I wasn’t disappointed. Roy was accompanied by Matt Churchill on guitar. A 95-minute audience recording exists from the Glasgow show of this tourwith Tom Tiddler’s Ground, First Thing In The Morning, Don’t You Grieve, Pinches Of Salt, Highway Blues, Another Day, When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease, Me And My Woman, North Country, One Man Rock And Roll Band and The Green Man. David enjoyed the gig and went along with a friend to see Roy at Leeds City Varieties a couple of weeks later.

Roy Harper Buddle Arts Centre Wallsend 1986

Roy Harper Buddle Arts Centre Wallsend 1986 roybuddle I next saw Roy Harper at the Buddle Arts Centre in Wallsend on 30th Sep 1986. The Buddle is a sadly missed local venue, that played host to many concerts over the years, although this was the only occasion that I attended a gig there. The Buddle was housed in an old school, and the concert room was a small intimate venue. It was great to see Roy close up again; just him, his acoustic guitar, his songs and his great banter with the crowd. I can’t recall the exact set, but I do remember that I was pleased that he played a lot of old favourites. I think that included When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease, Tom Tiddler’s Ground, Me And My Woman, I Hate The White Man and One Of Those Days In England.
Some information about the Buddle from the North Tyneside Council website: “For 27 years, the Buddle Arts Centre in Wallsend was North Tyneside’s community arts and creative industries resource and gained a deserved reputation as one of the most distinctive and innovative arts facilities in the North East. When the centre closed in October 2008, it brought to an end the latest phase of a history stretching back more than 130 years. The building was originally commissioned by the Wallsend School Board and completed in 1876. buddle It was officially opened as the Buddle Board Schools on 30th July 1877. For some years the building housed the Wallsend Arts Centre, a voluntary organsiation, but its future was uncertain before beginning a new era as the Buddle Arts Centre on 21st September 1981. The Buddle Arts Centre was one of the first facilities of its kind in the North East – but from its earliest days it was really one of a kind. The core of the facility was the intimate performance space and exhibitions gallery. The centre quickly built up a reputation for its music and theatre programme, the quality of its exhibitions, its pioneering support for disability arts, its resources for youth music development.”

First Tyneside Music Festival 1986 Roy Harper

First Tyneside Music Festival mid 1980s Roy Harper
roytynesidemusic fest Strange one this. I googled this festival and can find very little on it. I have the small programme which I have included here, and looking at the line-up this event must have taken place in the mid 80s. The festival was at Exhibition Park just outside of the town. There were folk, rock and jazz stages. Roy Harper appeared in a marquee on the Friday night, as part of the Folk stage. Support came from Michael Chapman and Isaac Gullory. A group of us went through to see Roy. He was back to playing solo with an acoustic guitar, and sang a set of favourites. The rest of the bill included Beloius Some and Gonzalez. I also recall seeing Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at an event on Exhibition Park. I can’t recall whether this was the same event, however, Joan Jett is not mentioned in the programme, so I guess it was a different event. Actually my (very bad) memory seems to be telling me that the Joan Jett concert was a Radio 1 event held at Newcatle? I also saw Roy Harper at Newcastle Riverside around the same time, and remember him playing a very long (and excellent) version of Me and My Woman. Roy went through a difficult time in the 80s, both financially and musically. Roy, speaking to the Telegraph in 2011: “I ended up owing EMI £82,000 in 1980. I lost my house because I was in so much debt. So in 1982, I started again from scratch. But I wouldn’t want you to write this up in a negative way, because it’s been another lifetime since then, and it’s been a great life, actually.” tynesidemsuicfest Postscript. I found my ticket for this event which shows it took place on Friday 8th August 1986. Mystery solved.

Roy Harper Newcastle City Hall 1977

Roy Harper Newcastle City Hall 1977
roytix1977 The next time I saw Roy Harper was in October 1977 at a concert at Newcastle City Hall. The programme lists the Albion Band as support (they were formed by Ashley Hutching, founding member of Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span). However I also have a flyer for Spriguns in the programme, and Mitch tells me that is was them who supported that night. Roy was backed by the same electric band as earlier in the year. I think by now they were called Black Sheep, and featured Henry McCullough on lead guitar. Roy was performing a full electric set at the time. An audience recording from a concert in Dublin in 1977 shows the setlist as: One Of Those Days In England, Another Day, Naked Flame, Forget Me Not, Cherishing The Lonesome, Prick Up In The Saddle, Take Me Home, Referendum, When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease, Highway Blues and Grown Ups Are Just Silly Children. royprog I guess this is the sort of set that Roy will have played at the City Hall, however, he has always tended to vary the set from one night to another. The cover of the tour programme shows Roy with one of his famous Black Sheep. The black sheep story came out when Roy became seriously ill with a strange illness called Osler-Weber-Rendu disease. He told the papers that he’d become ill after giving a sheep the kiss of life. In Roy’s words: “That same day, it was headline news in Australia and New Zealand. A big story there, given that the sheep outnumber the people about four to one. Then it hits the broadsheets here. The next thing I know, I’ve been kissing a sheep.” The illness was hardly a laughing matter, though. At first he was given seven years to live. However, “the doctor came back to my bedside a fortnight later and said ‘I think I’m wrong’. It’s been that sort of situation ever since.”

Roy Harper Middlesbrough Town Hall February 1977


remnants of my ticket stub

Roy Harper Middlesbrough Town Hall 1977
1977 and Roy almost became a pop star. He released a fine single One of Those Days in England and had a proper rock band backing him. In Roy’s own words from his web site: “The single shot to no. 42 in the chart, with a promise from the Top Of The Pops producer, Robin Nash, to have us on the show as soon as the record reached 40 or better. That same week the record company released the album, with a free single inside it! ! ! So… that was it for that ‘campaign’.. At the time I had a constituency of about 150,000 people. Top Of The Pops would have given us a potential constituency of 13,000,000.” So Roy never made Top of the Pops and the single didn’t reach any higher in the charts. But he was pretty popular at the time and was filling concert halls up and down the country.

Flyer for an earlier tour (1975) I think. Don’t recall if I was at the gig at Newcastle City Hall or not!

I remember this gig at Middlesbrough Town Hall as being full, and Roy playing a loud electric set. Roy looked very much the rock star part, sporting a satin cowboy shirt, and a big hat. I think he may have even been playing an electric guitar, a Rickenbacker comes to mind, but that could be my memory playing tricks again. I do remember this as a great gig, one of the best times that I saw Roy in the 70s. Roy’s band at the time was (I think) the great Henry McCullough (ex Joe Cocker Grease Band) on lead guitar; Andy Roberts (Grimms) guitar; Dave Lawson (ex Greenslade) keyboards; John Halsey (Patto) on drums, and Dave Cochran (sole survivor of Roy’s previous band Trigger) on bass. I am not sure if the band was called Chips or Black Sheep at this stage (I think it was Chips), as both names were used for the band in 1977. The sheep reference was derived from Roy’s mysterious illness which he contracted from giving a sheep kiss of life whilst on his farm. This was also the time of the great Watford Gap song: “Watford Gap, Watford Gap, A plate of grease and a load of crap” hailing the delights of the service station. The song goes: “One of those days in England with the country goin’ broke”…pretty relevant today methinks 🙂

Roy Harper Knebworth 5th July 1975

Roy Harper Knebworth 5th July  1975
knebworth The next time I saw Roy Harper was at the Knebworth Festival in 1975. This one day event was headlined by Pink Floyd, with appearances by the Steve Miller Band, Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, Linda Lewis and Graham Chapman (Monty Python) and friends, with DJ for the day John Peel. I’ll blog about the full event on another day, probably when I come to write about Pink Floyd, but I wanted to write here about my memories of Roy from that day. Roy was a strong favourite of mine by this time, so I made sure that I had a good view for his set. His band in 1975 was called Trigger and featured Chris Spedding on guitar (ex Jack Bruce band, and Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments and to go on to further solo success), Dave Cochrane on bass (Dave stayed with Roy for a number of years) and Bill Bruford on drums (ex Yes and King Crimson). Setlists from the day suggest that Roy played: Commune; Twelve Hours of Sunset; Another Day; Electric; Hallucinating Light; Referendum; Highway Blues; Too Many Movies; The Spirit Lives; Home; The Game; Grown Ups Are Just Silly Children. By now Another Day was a favourite of mine, along with Highway Blues. I think I remember Jesus dancing at the front for Roy’s set. If he wasn’t he should have been. It was one of those hippy days. Roy was back on stage later in the day with headliners Pink Floyd to sing vocals on Have a Cigar. I saw Roy appear once more at Knebworth, when Genesis headlined in 1978. He was a big favourite with the festival crowds, and always seemed at ease, even in front of 100,000 people. He would chat away quite naturally to us all, and always had something entertaining and interesting to say.