20 January 2019 (gig)
21 January 2019
Dragging myself out on a freezing Sunday night, to totter down the steepest stairs in Camden Town is something I do not do lightly: I would only do to see someone special and, as usual, Mark Harrison proved to be just that.
For those who do not know his music, he is a singer and acoustic guitarist playing very much in the style of the 1930’s Blues singers but entirely with his own writings.
In the past I have seen him with bass accompaniment or even a full band of musicians but this was the raw, solo, Mark Harrison – just him, his hat and his 1934 resonator guitar.
Sitting on a low stool and surrounded by a vocal and guitar mic he entertained us for well over an hour with songs from a goodly number of his albums as well as some new material which proved to be well up to the standards of his published songs.
Opening the set with ‘Panic Attack’ from his 2014 album ‘The World Outside’, he regaled us with some delightful raconteurship in between songs, explaining – sometimes – the story behind the song or characters he sings about. Like the best Blues of that early period this is music that tells stories, that brings you into a world view and it is all delivered without excess volume or effect.
I have always ‘enjoyed’ his song about Coventry in the blitz ‘Bombs Come Down’ and his explanation of the horrors of the bombing of Coventry – his home city – is harrowing and moving but he balances that with ‘Your Second Line’ asking who will be at your funeral that doesn’t HAVE to be there.
The new songs stood up very well; ‘Skip Song’ looking at the world through the curmudgeonly eyes of the legendary Skip James & ‘Don’t Let The Crazy Out The Bag Too Soon’ were very good.
Mark Harrison is a delightful performer and you really owe it to yourself to get out and discover him.