Nick at The Limelight Club, Crewe,
Thursday 9 May 2002 - by Rich Dubourg

The gig was in the Limelight Club, a really old-fashioned rock venue apparently specialising in covers bands with ridiculous names like Fred Zeppelin, Whatsnake and By Jovi. By Jovi! Can you believe it... [why yes, as Non Jovi played the same night as Nick in Edinburgh :) - P.] Accordingly, Nick kept referring to himself as Nicked Harper! It was a fairly small venue, with a relatively large open area at the front, raised areas around the side and a high stage. Consequently, the view was good everywhere, but it wasn't very intimate or personal, given that no one really want to stand up in the middle of the floor.

There were about 50 people there, nearly all Nick fans, I think, although rather annoyingly, for me at least, there seemed to be a large proportion who hadn't seen or heard anything from him since the last time he'd played there, which must have been around the time of Seed (my least favourite album). As a result, when the gig eventually got going, loads of people kept shouting out for The Magnificent G7, Mr Grey (!), etc, hardly up to date with Nick's work. I mean, Mr Grey was a dodgy song when it was first written, but at least then it was topical...

Anyway, the gig started about 9.30. It was the first time I'd seen Nick outside of the south east. To me he looked very nervous, as if he was aware that he wasn't really going to see any familiar faces in the crowd. Although the crowd gave a good reception to his songs, that lack of intimacy didn't make Nick any less nervous, I don't think, which meant his usual banter didn't flow as well as normal, and he seemed to be trying to overcompensate by playing a bit too hard.

It wasn't quite working until, I guess about 45 mins through the show, I think he just decided that it wasn't going to be one of the intimate Brighton-type gigs, so he might as well concentrate on the music, at which point he seemed to relax and his playing and singing got much better. As a result, he played some great versions - Radio Silence actually managed to silence the (not overly noisy) crowd, and Smithereens was fantastically played (a great song, for me). He played a lot of the songs he'd played on the second night in Brighton (the night I was there), as well as a few extras (now I come to write this four days later, I forget what they were!). Certainly he played Here Today, Here Tomorrow, which I hadn't heard before, Instrumental (ditto), and the new one for his daughter (Being, it's called in the review on Quixotic's website). The song he currently seems to be finishing his set with has quite some power, I think - Love Is Music comes over almost as a mantra, which gave it considerable power in Brighton where the crowd clapped along as he sang a capella while changing a string. Unfortunately, he gave up on The Tiger halfway through, partly I think because of the shouting for Janet And John (OK, but...), and partly maybe because he realised it had become much more of a 'rock' gig - quite appropriate given the venue.

Anyway, an interesting gig in the end, two hours long without a break, capped off by Nick playing and walking around the hall singing to all the 'lovely ladies'... Still, if I tell you that Nick felt the need to explain to the crowd that Chuck D was in Public Enemy, it might give you an idea of the lack of 'connection' that was there, somehow. I'm off to Chester tonight, so maybe I'll post another review in the not too distant future.

Created 16 May 2002
© RD/PLC 2002