Nick Harper and Si Hayden @The Tin 28th Feb 2014

Nick during Juicy Fruit Girl at The Tin

The TIN music centre inside Taylor Johns is a former coal cavern but don’t let its former industrial use put you off. Inside the venue it is cosy and well decorated you will find friendly staff and friendly patrons who provide a nice atmosphere. 

Looking at the line up the venue has everything from live music to poetry recitals and even theatrical performances.

Whilst it could never be called the cavern (Liverpool has one of those) it is a unique venue the layout of which provides unique acoustics.

SI Hayden

Sadly, I arrived late for Si’s performance but I caught some of it. Si armed with an acoustic guitar and a microphone; whilst he didn’t sing a lot when he did pluck up the courage he was rather good. The first full piece we heard was a flamenco rendition of a song that I didn’t quite catch the title of.

His style was certainly unique and interesting. Si followed with a piece called ‘A Beginning’ from a musical he wrote for. It was somewhat like a Paganini piece, a mixture of dynamics, chord travelling and little hooks. His arrangement of Moon dance (Van Morrison) was refreshing and worthy of a second listen, combining the chord structure and lead melodies fluently and comfortably.

As previously mentioned when he did sing for his version of ‘It Should Have Been Me’ it was touching. One small issue (that would possibly be the bane of the night) was the speed of Si’s playing. He enjoys playing fast, a lot. Unfortunately it sometimes means that nuances and moments that could sink in and cascade are not as powerful. Overall though, his playing was intriguing and lively, filling the room pleasantly.

Si Hayden performing at The Tin

Si Hayden performing at The Tin

Nick Harper

Nick came on stage armed with an acoustic guitar, a microphone, snazzy footpedal by IK multimedia which connected to his Apple Mac Book Pro which was running the music software Mainstage. This wasn’t there to cheat the audience but to flesh out the songs and to add depth to each song.

Nick is clearly on tour promoting his 2013 album Riven that contains such gems as the Juicy Fruit Girl that was introduced by a story that took place in Pewsy in the middle of Wiltshire.

Juicy Fruit Girl was innocent but also a bit dark in places and Nick performed it with a lot of energy.

Simple from the 2007 album Miracles For Beginning went well and the crowd liked it too, some danced, some sang along.

As a virgin to Nick’s repertoire nevertheless one song that touched me was about his mother who after having some drinks whilst staying in a small French town proceeded to get access to the bell house at the top of a clock tower and ring it.

Unfortunately, a confused person in the pre song repartee ended up heckling Nick and being politely requested to stay quiet or get out; perhaps the person had consumed too many drinks. That said the song carried on and Nick put plenty of emotional into it, showing his professional manner.

Nick during Juicy Fruit Girl at The Tin

Nick during Juicy Fruit Girl at The Tin

Nick is a vigorous guitar player breaking at least three strings during his performance, but Nick ever the professional has learned to soldier on by singing and changing his guitar string at the same time.

As an unfamiliar with Nick’s work we could take a fresh look at his repertoire and style. Whilst he had some amusing lyrics and concepts, and interesting song structures, his overall guitar playing was not exactly my taste. It was exceptionally full on and over percussive to possible try to imitate and fill in the role of the drums. Unfortunately this meant that songs hurried to conclusions, and as Nick has running everything through his laptop it carried with it the harsh acoustic ‘DI’ clicking sound of aggressive strums. An exceptionally fast compressor or even just mic’ing the guitar up to add to the DI would solve this issue and have made it less harsh at points. It is unfortunate to admit, however when it becomes quite distracting and sacrifices the melodies and lyrics, it is worth noting.

However, I have since looked at his released versions of songs and must say they are quite good and overall was worth attending the gig.

Nick’s Website

Si’s Website

The Tin