WELCOME RAIDERS of the lost ARCHIVE
2 MARCH 2003
Last night was the first of the Levellers tour of Non-Compliance which I kicked off in JB's - downtown Dudley . Temple; GTRman; SongofMadness and Titties 'n' Beer (requested by an enthusiastic female nutcase) filled the half hour slot .I did have the first of quite a few pints on the go, but the titties were nowhere to be seen...I do have a particularly deranged version of the Zappa tune which has already been approved by the Zappa estate so we should see this appear on the next instalment of Harpic Live ... sometime ... maybe ...
3 MARCH 2003
Phew! Head not good - silly boy...Last night was St. Albans and it Herts.The merriment all began as Michael Owen did his thing on the telly and it sort of carried on all day and night. I enjoyed the Sunday night crowd at the gig who really listened and helped me rock - nice to see some familiar faces in the audience - thanks for turning up and I trust you had a good night...Today has been rather sedate in comparison (good job too).Just about to go on in Leicester ...
4 MARCH 2003
A fairly quiet gig last night - Monday night in Leicester - nevertheless Harpic rocked. Had a lovely cup of tea with those nice Levellers people and tucked up in my bunk on the bus nice and early.
5 MARCH 2003
Days beginning to blend into one - brain cells dwindling ... Interesting gig in Cheltenham last night with about half a dozen strange people at the front shouting some very familiar phrases at me whilst gurning. They were last seen chatting amicably with security outside the gig and apparently left the area before the Levellers set foot on stage - ah shame.
7 MARCH 2003
Day off yesterday....may need to send for help.
8 MARCH 2003
Disastre mon amis! Double irretrievable string break and tuning mayhem ensure I die and become a legend in Aylesbury. Also a remnant of the lovely gang from Cheltenham shouting those random vitriolic exhortations to leave the stage help things along. I haven't had this much abuse since I razed Kiev to the ground ...
9 MARCH 2003
Those quiet unassuming Levellers and some of the crew (shouldn't they be working) gave me a good old fashioned guard of honour type welcome off stage to go with a completely different performance from Harpic in Coventry...what a decent lot of chaps they are. Rumours are persisting about a support slot on Eddi Reader's tour of the UK in April/May. I'm only doing sporadic gigs this spring so I can concentrate on recording and have a new CD to offer posteriority in the autumn, but a tour like that would help my despicable little empire grow and consolidate my claims to be included in the Axis of Evil and it might be a bit of a lark as well ...
10 MARCH 2003
Llandudno on a Sunday night...fantastic! Many ruddy faced youths did come for verily a large night to take part in - everyone gave their all - the jesters played - the flesh turned on the spit - the fire dances ensued - the ale flowed - the perspiration rained...this is what it's all about.
11 MARCH 2003
I type this at home visiting the family and trying to convince them it really is me beneath the grime and filth of the road...Salisbury tomorrow, which is sort of a local gig...now must catch up on parish news ...
13 MARCH 2003
Ah that's better - refreshed renewed and ready for another battering our intrepid hero ventures forth into the wicked world of rock mayhem once more...and he loves it. Salisbury was great - a few familiar faces in the crowd which is always encouraging. The odd school pal here, the odd creditor there ...
14 MARCH 2003
Plymouth last night and it's a variation on a theme of another great night - went down a storm which helped me ignore the fact that I sliced the skin off the top of a knuckle with a particularly vicious and overzealous chop across the top string - ouch (tis but a scratch really). I finished the set with blood splattered across the soundboard which could stand me in good stead if I go for the job with Slipknot. I received attention immediately from an assortment of seemingly well qualified part-time nursing staff who recommended plenty of rest and half a case of anaesthetic ...
17 MARCH 2003
Well it's all over and the blur of 'The Big Push' has given way to the empty end of tour no socially acceptable reason to party ennui void...I think the last gig in Preston was another good one - the undoubted highlight a band legendary in touring circles called Flies Eyes joining me for a dirty low slung 'n' loose version of a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club song. The journey home was very long and hilarious - fatigue and cabin fever finally giving way to delirium. Wiltshire via most of the larger conurbations saying toodle-pip to my best friends ever that I don't even know. I'm not quite sure what Granny made of me pitching up for Sunday lunch foaming at the mouth slipping in and out of consciousness rambling on about one way of life and flies eyes.
It was a great tour all round - made some new friends, met some old ones, enjoyed playing, went down very well everywhere (Aylesbury?), escaped reality for two weeks, got inspired by the Levellers who treated me like they would a Lord (stocks, ducking stool etc.), ate and drank extremely well, made it out alive and still got home just in time for the war.
That sort of concludes the tour diary type meanderings for a bit, but I'll speak soonish ...
I am currently
25 MAY 2003
Hi there it's me again. I'm back for more. I've been a very busy boy recently, so sorry for the delay, but anyway let me relay nay replay the day we went to Dieppe ...
Well we got there and that's about as exciting a ferry crossing story as there can be. I say we which is me and Paul who I look on as my Brother in Arms (and Step dad in Wales.)Various beers later including some Belgian trappiste monk brews (these men are clearly unholy) and I find myself playing the guitar in the hotel bar to a raucous bunch of Brits and it's getting light. Dammit! dammit!! I've done it again. I think I was mainly trashing Blur's new single which I think is fantastic ...
The gig itself was great - a good turn out boosted by a crazy bunch from Stourport and a dynamic duo from Liverpool via Amsterdam not to mention a very dear family friend who lived with Mum and Dad in the 60's who mentioned later that it was really him, my mother and Paul Simon who wrote 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' which was very exciting news.
There were tears in the front row (local population coerced into attending) and when I left the stage they all stood up and cheered (not shy to show their relief at the end of the show).I also enjoyed shoehorning the Blur song into 'Love is Music' but the highlight has to be my faltering Franglais which had them howling with laughter at all the wrong places and led one couple to sue for defamation of character...and guess where the boys from the black country, the scousers and me were when it was getting light? ... I'm afraid so.
26 MAY 2003
Last night was the second for me on the Eddi Reader tour which is going to be good I reckon.It was at the Lowry in Manchester (well, Salford which is just outside- that's one for City fans)It's a beautiful new theatre in a really well designed Quayside development (retail parks, food courts, canalside apartments, considerate relocation of the locals and absolutely no backhanders at the council) but really showpiece modern architecture rocks - Prince Charles would be proud.
Eddi really has got an incredible voice and a great band with her too, I'm not sure what her fans think of my noisy behaviour beforehand but I haven't been asked to leave yet. One snippet of a fragment of a lie is that Fairport Convention were next door and the rumour that emanated is that I will be playing Cropredy Festival next year! Yippee!
I'm driving myself about which is a bit knackering (sometimes it's just like having a job), but now we've secured all that lovely oil I don't think the price at the pumps will rocket before the end of the tour so that's some consolation...I'm also checking out some dear old sofas and floors which is lovely ...
27 MAY 2003
Last night was Leeds City Varieties which is a fantastic music hall venue (where they used to film 'The Good Old Days' in the good old days) all gilded boxes, intimacy and 'I say, I say, I say!' To think I was stood on the very same stage that Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel et al had performed on was a thrill - then again some would say I'm just another comedian ...
30 MAY 2003
Wednesday was Liverpool in the Philharmonic which is an art deco edifice where they do real music (Max Bruch was principal geezah there for a while among others - Queen's autograph in the green room etc.[not the band, the bird]) As expected the acoustics are top notch and the whole atmosphere is a bit special. That reminds me of a different atmosphere that was there one night at a certain other Mr. Harper concert when countless Harper hordes made it in through a sky light ...
Last night was Sheffield City Hall um...er I enjoyed Eddi's gig - John Mckusker and Kate Rusby joined in (with Eddi) and it was very very hot, man. Tonite Loogabarooga!
2 JUNE 2003
Well what do you know another weekend another mess about. Saturday was the Hop and Grape - otherwise known as Academy 3 or Manchester University or Sean's place. Cracking venue with great sound/lights/people. I felt a burst of energy come from somewhere and put a bit of gusto in and really enjoyed myself (especially in the bar over the road after the gig) - I look forward to the next gig here...I got some serious abuse for the shirt but as usual it was entirely justified ...
Sunday was lovely for me because a planned Harper reunion was effected over a pint and a couple of dead birds (chickens not queens) in a pub somewhere in Cheshire. It was a great success as over 3 Harpers turned up(our family is scattered to the four Winsfords)...then it was off to Winsford. First outdoor gig of the year and it's a different feeling altogether - songs like 'She Rules My World' mean so much more in the sunshine and the breeze - pretentious moi?
3 JUNE 2003
Hey there babies...yesterday was Worcester in Huntingdon Hall with a rarified atmosphere within, ethereal (ether-real) and with a sprinkling of celestial seasoning. Were they from pods in the back garden? Was it a rotary do? Should we have brought our aprons? Actually all it was was people acting just like they thought they ought to in a vaguely religious setting. I saw lots of normal behaviour in the foyer like spitting, shouting, swearing, signing the mailing list and coveting thy neighbours knockers so that was a relief ...
6 JUNE 2003
Last night was the Union Chapel gig in Islington - groovy baby. It's a fantastic place to play - great atmosphere and a great sound as long as your style doesn't encompass anything too wordy and/or raucous...oh dear. The sound swelled and reverberated around which I love - for those who had ears to hear and listened hard you could hear the previous song swirling in the upper reaches of the building (closer to God). I felt totally relaxed and calm and played like I felt (as usual). What damned fine use of a church.
7 JUNE 2003
It's the Stables in Milton Keynes, just next door to Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine's house, which is nice. Not a whiff of horses apart from the odd toothy grin in the bar. I'm trying to get a gig of my own here, but they've always refused - maybe this is my chance to turn over a new leaf - no swearing, no rude or silly songs, no elongated guitar hypnotica, no drinking, no string breaks, just a nice middle of the road sound that wouldn't offend anyone. Hey this could be the new me ...
8 JUNE 2003
Nah didn't happen.
10 JUNE 2003
Newark - a myth becomes fact as the dressing room is done over and Boo and Christine from Eddi's band have their cash stolen during the gig. Bad. As I'm thinking of the thief I'm reminded that Newark is an anagram of 'we rank' amongst others ...
12 JUNE 2003
King's Lynn and it's Michael Owen on the telly whilst Nicky Harper's on the stagy. Thankfully I missed the first half which was apparently dire and tuned in as the red (in white) wunderkind did the business in the second half. A few large VATs round off a rather pleasant evening ...
13 JUNE 2003
What a cracking day...lots of sun and fun. Met up with Colin (a fine photographer what did the piccies for 'Seed' 'Smithereens' and 'Harperspace') who lives in cambridge. He organised a multicultural game of footie on 'Parkers Piece' - the patch of ground where the rules of football were first made public by a bunch of Cambridge students who nailed the original version to the trees around the park. I think Colin, my old mate Bov and me were the only Englishmen on the field and we did a great impression of England the night before (first half). We then limped back to the corn exchanging rooms and with moments to spare (it's so exciting) I ran on stage hot, sweaty and knackered before I'd played a note, but what do you know the lack of a sound check definitely helped and I escaped without even using another of my nine lives. For the rest of the tour I'm not going to bother with a sound check and do vigorous shouting and pointing for an hour before I go on.
After the gig a few of us met up in a noodle bar where we sang 'Happy Birthday' to Royston of Cork down a mobie before gate crashing a student party , getting chucked out and weaving back to Colin's for a serious talk on world affairs. Sadly the much vaunted reunion of 'Flies Eyes' stable mates 'Al Quieda All Stars' was not to be ...
14 JUNE 2003
Yesterday was friday the threpenteenth in Canterbury - what a beautiful 'city' absolutely steeped in history. The fact that it's quite a way from most of the rest of the country has helped it keep it's own feel - still wish it was somewhere near Oxford though...I wanted to go to evensong in the cathedral, but missed it for a very good reason. A luthier turned up peddling his rather fabulous wares and I was taken with a fine guitar that I think Eddi's now going to buy...I'm seriously thinking about getting one made...one day...check out Atkin Guitars you guitar freaks.
16 JUNE 2003
Reading - a quick zip up the A4/M4 and I'm in town - two hours later after a voyage of Baggins proportions, the one-way system is navigated and the gig is in sight. A spacey mood within and a Sunday night crowd without seem like odd bedfellows, but I'm reminded yet again that my idea of a gig bears little relation to how others see(hear?) it when someone tells me how much better it was than the gig at the Union Chapel ...
17 JUNE 2003
Winchester was, and still is just down the road which meant an easy trek south in the wagon - why I got home at 3.30 is another story...The Theatre Royal, very new, smells like the cellophane has only just come off - apart from where the Atkins (diet) people have discarded their empty mackerel tins...Well today's the last of the tour for me and I can get back to recording tomorrow, unless the aftershow bash is extremely rock and roll, but then I'll probably say my polite thankyou's and get home before it's dark anyway.
18 JUNE 2003
12 APRIL 2004
Soup and-a rice, soup and-a rice...suprise! I'm back online. After several sad but true complaints the tour diary has moving parts. Much has happened since I waded in the waters of the web with my world wide wellingtons waffling with(out) words of wisdom and wuminating on what wasn't what. The critically acclaimed (in our house) album 'Blood Songs' is out there weaving away. I'm very proud of this cd. I feel I have done the people I love the most some justice in some way. Obviously in reality I extract the Michael as much as possible and have no obvious use to the un-nuclear unit I've helped construct ...
This sentence cannot be red, otherwise it would just be a small hole in your browsers. Unless they were chords of Roy's. Sorry lost the thread there.
13 APRIL 2004
Hahaha. Stoke is the first gig of the tour and due to lack of any preparation whatsoever I find the venue by spying the address on a poster driving in to the city and asking directions from a host of aliens, blow-ins and foreigners before meeting a potty potter with a vague idea that live music does exist in the modern world. I'm comforted by the fact that in the 3000 years I've been touring, Stoke has the same feel. It's a place that must hold some incredible endeavour one day to be revealed to the world- scaffolding and 'temporary' wooden screens mask the endless construction of what will be perhaps be the 8th wonder of the world. For now we must wait, but come the day Stoke will be up there with the Hanging Baskets of Basildon and the Pyramid Selling of Geezers.
Anyway it was a decent gig. Everything sort of worked which was a bit weird.
14 APRIL 2004
Now then. Mr 'I'm not vain' Harper is filmed in Carlisle for a potential DVD release and guess what? He gets all silly. Totally forgot I was on the radio to promote the gig and got a call from a very understanding producer who promised he wouldn't have me shot if I did the interview half an hour later. Despite the pressure I managed to rise to the occasion spectacularly and bore the listeners of Cumbria into submission by talking about myself and my dad (he's a musician as well you know) and force them all to come to the gig.
Good venue the Brickyard - looking forward to going back. I had half a shandy and loosened up nicely, the audience even stamped their feet before I stamped mine, which was nice.
15 APRIL 2004
It was King Tut's last night. The legendary gig in Glasgow. Cliches become cliches for a reason and when the crowd started a sing-along-a-harpic session during 'Headless' I was quite moved.. They were so up for having a good time it was a joy being the one seeing them and I got outside myself for a while - if you were there thanks. Some bastard nicked the set list though.
16 APRIL 2004
Last night a night off in Edinburgh. Superb evening had by all including the film crew (who are stalking me until Manchester) and a few friends. 2 missing in action and one in hospital with suspected assassination attempt by curry - tour spicing up.
18 APRIL 2004
Manchester is one of my fave rave gigs that I do. The team that run the place are brilliant and the crowd are generally rude and funny. No exception last night. This is the last night having cameras stuffed up my nose which I'm really going to miss.. Oh I forgot they're going to come to Arran 'n' all. Made a midnight dash back to Wiltshire (home)(softie) so erm zzzzzzzzzz
19 APRIL 2004
The Boardwalk is a fantastic venue - love it. Chris the owner is a great guy and gave me much more respect than I deserved. So did the revelers who came in great numbers - top night. Raided the fridge at the Boardwalk and stayed at an old mates gaff. Talked about the music business and other fantasies.
20 APRIL 2004
Really enjoyed Leeds. Just had a right old laugh. Good bantering to and fro, relaxed, cantering, spontaneous renditions of made up songs and a packed house on it all the way. Galloped home after the gig though, fuelled by a double visit to a West Indian shop for the hottest patties known to man and the strongest coffee a honky can handle.
22 APRIL 2004
The Maze in Nottingham is a great little gig. Stage in the corner and the crowd up close and personal - you can smell the lion's breath. Happily the beast had eaten and was displaying a slight euphoria probably due to the excellent selection of beers and ales of said establishment and I wasn't even mauled.
23 APRIL 2004
Exeter last night - bit formal in the phoenix but a few nutters managed to gain entry before displaying their true colours. Also my old mate Ben Jones is along for the next three gigs which is always a laugh and a half. I enjoyed his opening set almost as much as the session we had after the gig in a couple of Exeter's late night trough houses.
24 APRIL 2004
Beautiful drive up through the black mountains yesterday to Tregaron. Cracking gig and good turnout make it well worth the trip up from Exeter. Hold on a minute Nottingham to Exeter to Aberystwyth to CANTERBURY. Thank the stars I went to bed early and didn't get hopelessly drunk amidst an arm wrestling competition with the local rugby team - that had to have been a dream. Funny thing is it was so realistic I'm a little worse for wear this morning.
25 APRIL 2004
Got to the gig in Canterbury late and in a bit of a daze, later did the gig in a bit of a daze, dazed the gig in a later bit of Canterbury. Dazed and Canterburied... Anyway a couple of days with no enormo-drives to come and rooms in a pub meant the pressure was off and me and Jonesy ended a happy night singing from the top of a maple tree in the centre of the city.
29 APRIL 2004
Really enjoyed last night. Aldershot is an army town, but a full house of contra culturistas snook past the establishment types and made it past Crimea Road and over Ordnance roundabout (really) to the venue - a cracking little arts gaff called the West End Centre. 'Smash hit west end show' is stretching it a bit, but it was a good 'un. At one point I stumbled through some unrehearsed tunes which lent the evening some semblance of humanity before veering into more well-trodden set-list type areas. Hey this is Harpic - keeping it real.
30 APRIL 2004
Get yer coats you've Pooled. Oh I do like to be beside a couple of beautiful females snogging through the set. As far as I can see they put on a much better show in the front row than anything I could ever come up with on the stage. This is the gig where I stand and shout encore as the audience leave. When I did manage to take my eyes off the wanton freak-wenches I noticed that the gig was packed and going quite well without me thinkering with it and spoiling things by tinking about them too much.
Must go I've got a plane to catch
3 MAY 2004
Back from Bergen - what a blast! Played three times - the first in the middle of the main square of the city. I followed a southern psycho-billy shack shakin' spittle spitting beat combo which was a bit odd and when i realised my voice was still somewhere over the North Sea I was off to a none too auspicious start. Despite witnessing this the producer of a radio show asked me to play live to the nation later on. This I did and it was a rather better showing - most of the voice finally arriving. Later on the 'proper' gig was great. Harper fans from Edinburgh, Helsinki and Liverpool as well as local types were seen loitering with intent to have a laugh, as did I.
Top part of the trip was hanging with Stolle (man of steel). Me and Tour Manager Bov (1st Class) had met him earlier at the marina, whilst picking out our yacht for the gin palace tour of the fjords. He'd just got out of the nick (all a big misunderstanding) and was up for a large night. So we ended up sharing an Irish coffee between the three of us (2 million pounds each) and swapping niceties with the whole population of Bergen introduced to us by Stolle. Hilarious.
On top of all that the sun blazed away throughout which apparently is unusual weather for Bergen - always take it with you eh? A wockin whirlind twip - hope they ask me back.
12 MAY 2004
London last night in Islington - no sign of those well known local acoustic music fans the Blairs which was a disappointment - maybe they're more into countries & westernisation these days. Anyway a good time was had by all before during and after. Caught up with my bruvvah Felix who's the coolest dude in town and shot some crap purple pool - the baize was ablaze.
13 MAY 2004
Colchester last night in an old church where they now have live music and drink heavily. I was told once that during the civil war the city was held by the cavaliers for quite a long time due in no small part to the positioning of a massive howitzer on a wall of this church, overlooking the city. Eventually the roundheads brought up their guns and blasted the church until the gun fell and smashed to pieces. The city then fell to Cromwell's forces because all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again. And if you believe that you probably think 'Ring-A-Ring o' Roses' is about the Black Death.
15 MAY 2004
Funny Brummies. They made I laugh. It's a good venue the Theatre MAC - nice and cosy comfy but not too posh to prevent sparky malarky although we simply had to have an interval so we could all get to the bar which could have lowered the angle of the evening's trajectory. I normally prefer to go straight through but we did have a good time. Hmmm one hump or two? Don't care really, love it all, bring it on, 'ave it.
17 MAY 2004
Well that's it for another few weeks - the gargantuan monster that is the Harpic touring machine has ground to a halt to recharge, restock and rethink.
Northampton was cool - now we look forward to Festival Season. The Fleadh in Finsbury Park has got to be good - Bob Dylan headlining. I've heard of him. Cropredy should be good too as there will be 25,000 people and only one stage so there's no escape for the poor blighters. Edinburgh festival is go and is always a toptastic week or so for me. However my highlight of the summer has to be the two gigs in the Chapel in Lochranza on the Isle of Arran - 50 people, no PA and mucho magica guarantita..
See you in a bit, love to you and yours, NH.