Nick and Roy at Newcastle Opera House,
Monday 30 September 2002 -
by Joe Orton, Matt Jones, and Steve Farrell

Joe's review:

Here are my memories of the gig at Newcastle Opera House on 30th September (such as they are).

We arrived (my wife and I) bang on time to find the set was delayed by 15 minutes due to late arrival of the P.A., so at least we had time for a drink before the start - non-alcoholic in my case as I was driving. Nick came on at 7.45 and got straight into it. I thought at first his voice was giving him some trouble, however after a song or two it seemed to sort itself out and was as amazing as ever.

The set list included (not necessarily in this order) She Rules My World, Radio Silence, Shadowlands, The Verse Time Forgot, a new song written for his daughter, Building Our Own Temple and Headless. Apart from the new song, which I really didn't like - I never think songs to one's children work very well, eg John Lennon's Beautiful Boy, they always seem sugary - everything else was top notch.

Although there were a few tuning problems, as always Nick's method of dealing with them by just carrying on while re-tuning is a marked contrast to Roy's messing about for 15 minutes several times a set (none of that this time though, I hasten to add). My wife and I just looked at each other in silent admiration as Nick held notes for a seeming eternity in Radio Silence, and Building Our Own Temple was a tour de force as usual, worth the price of admisssion on its own. A string break during the intro led to the first couple of minutes sung a cappella to a rousing cheer when he came back in with the re-strung guitar!

During the intermission I went over to see one of my friends from work who had never seen Nick before and he looked stunned, he just said "Wow!". His mate, a long time fan of Roy, said Nick reminded him of when he'd seen Roy 30 years ago.

Roy came on after about 20 minutes and did Commune (magnificent), Rushing Camelot (growing on me) and Frozen Moment (better live than on record) before Nick joined him for the rest of the set, which included Short And Sweet, Bad Speech paired with Drawn To The Flame, Francesca, Sophisticated Beggar, Sleeping At The Wheel, Miles Remains, The Tallest Tree, Hangman, and The Green Man as an encore.

Although most of the crowd pleasers were missing I really enjoyed the set, especially Sophisticated Beggar, which I haven't heard him do before, and Francesca. Even Drawn To The Flame, which I've never particularly liked, took on a new life played live. I always think Roy gains an extra dimension when Nick accompanies him - the decoration of his delicate playing complements Roy's songs beautifully. The electric guitar on (I think) Drawn To The Flame (it could have been Sleeping At The Wheel) was a bit dodgy at times but included some great licks. Everything else was perfect, though.

I visited the CD stall at half time and bought Double Life, [Roy's new rarities CD] Today Is Yesterday and Royal Festival Hall so all in all it was an expensive outing, but well worth it. To put it into perspective I went to see Bad Company last week - it cost twice as much for a ticket and they were on for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Roy and Nick were on for almost 3 hours between them - that's what I call value for money! We left with smiles on our faces and I rushed home to put Double Life in the CD player. Can't wait for the 19th November at Hartlepool Studio!

Matt's review:

I saw Roy and Nick at the Opera House in Newcastle last night. We arrived at about 7.15 to the sound of Roy sound-checking; it later turned out that the P.A arrived late so everything was a bit last minute. The Opera House is a good sized, old fashioned theatre and I'm pleased to say that a pretty big crowd turned up to see them both play.

Nick came on stage wearing an ever-so-slightly dodgy shirt, said 'Good morning' and went straight into it. Now I'm rubbish at remembering what was played at gigs; I know ...Temple was in there somewhere, as was She Rules My World, Headless and the new one about his daughter which I really like. Although Nick was great as usual, he never seemed to settle in; he had problems with the mic slipping down as well as a few tuning problems on his guitar. A string snapped just as he was doing the intro to ...Temple, after which he sang on while he re-strung, which really won the crowd over I think. He went offstage to shouts of 'More!' and huge applause, so I guess the problems he had didn't put people off too much.

After an intermission of about 10 minutes, Roy came on to rapturous applause. He looked really relaxed and... well... healthy! He had a real glow which wasn't there last time I saw him a few years ago in Whitley Bay. Again, unfortunately, I haven't got a song listing, but a few highlights for me were Frozen Moment, Sophisticated Beggar (it's great to hear him play early stuff like this), and after explaining how he bought a Miles Davis album in Windows (an independent record shop in Newcastle) earlier that day, he played Miles Remains alongside Nick which was just beautiful. Nick accompanied for most of the set; I have to say that I wasn't sure about the electric guitar accompaniment, but most of it sounded brilliant. Unfortunately, problems with the P.A. persisted all night, which Roy repeatedly apologised for. It didn't spoil the gig in my opinion though and my girlfriend and I had a fantastic evening. So thank you!

I bought Today Is Yesterday on my way out and played it when I got home. Brilliant stuff!

Steve's review:

I already have three of Nick Harper's albums. Double Life, Harperspace and Seed. I agree that the live album is great, and now i know what everyone means about Nick being great live. In fact, that's not the word - I'm still in shock at what the guy can do with a guitar - AMAZING and I'm still gob smacked.

You can tell someone is going to be funny when he arrives on stage and his first words are 'morning'. He then got the microphone stand and claimed he was measuring up his penis. His set was too short if you ask me. I remember him playing my fave The Verse Time Forgot along with She Rules My World and Building Our Own Temple, where he broke a string and carried on singing while replacing it!

Roy was good and funny but it wasn't fully my kind of music. It was great to see Nick come back on and play some guitar for his dad. Nick said, 'When I was small my mother always said that when my dad got older I would have to support him... this is not what I had in mind!' Great night!

And for Paula... Attire: black trousers, red and yellow plaid short sleeved shirt, trainers. His hair was fairly long with a side parting. [Thanks Steve! fashion reports always appreciated haha - P.]

Created 31 October 2002
© JO/MJ/SF/PLC 2002