Mick Harvey should be no stranger to those of us old enough or perhaps just with the good taste to adore The Birthday Party and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. It’s been many years since his time with those bands – and others – and now we find him in an entirely new phase in his grand career as a multi-instrumentalist and singer (but not solo by any means).
These days, it seems, the news of a Mick Harvey live show billed without a ‘support band’ can be interpreted as ‘a gig with the support part of the show’ itself. That can be said of this evening. It’s a great twist on the usual gig set-up we’re all accustomed to, and I suggest other bands explore this approach.
Glasgow’s Mono allowed Harvey and his new ensemble cast and co-writers to perform as one, in a front-room type setting I doubt I’ll have the intensity, or pleasure of witnessing again. His ‘support’, Sometimes With Others, seemed to intertwine and complement Harvey’s own work with Mexican singer Amanda Acevado, mixing back and forth, mixing Spanish and English language tunes, as they did throughout the lengthy set.
Mick Harvey and Amanda Acevado have just released their tragic, profound, and reflective first record ‘Phantasmagoria in Blue’, and both performed tunes from that album in sublime sections, along with ‘others’ at times taking the stage. This mix up was new to me, but certainly welcome. Harvey rarely put himself at the centre stage – both literally and in terms of the need to draw his fellow musicians in before the audience – in sound, and importance. All of it works, perfectly. Harvey and chosen musicians are all tuned in synch taking their cues as one.
Many sections of tonight’s show obviously focused on ‘Phantasmagoria..’, with Harvey and Acevado beautifully duetting on immediate iconic tracks such as ‘Love is a Battlefield’, ‘She Wont’, and a cover of Jackson C. Franks ‘Milk and Honey’. The music itself brings in elements of Spanish through Acevado, but all with the darkness and almost ‘lounge lizard’ sound that Harvey is well known for. It’s wonderful to hear – the old (Sorry, Mick) and the fresh combine beautifully in a setting tailor made for this kind of intimacy.
Out with the usual setlist (I gathered as my colleague specifically requested it) Mick Harvey, with Acevedo performed his famous take on the Serge Gainsbourg classic, Bonnie and Clyde. Just when the crowd assumed this tremendous send-off, Harvey and a few left the stage. But things weren’t over as some members of Sometimes With Others returned to give us a rather striking take on Led Zeppelin, plus more songs from their repertoire. The sign-off song came in the form of Zeppelin, with singer Mika Bajinski and co performing an unrecognizable rendition of ‘Whole Lotta Love’. It was as different a cover version you’ll hear – dream-like, melodic, lasting, aching – certainly nothing like its predecessor. Mick Harvey now seems to be taking these cues.
Words: Henry Jackson
Photo Credit: Matthew Ellery