The years did not roll away .
They stared right back at me when Roy Harper took the stage at the Festival Hall for his 75th Birthday Concert .
I first heard Harper on the ” Rock Machine Turns You On ” a CBS Sampler priced at fourteen shillings and sixpence ( a bargain price) my father bought for me .
I have been listening to him ever since .
Still at the Crease
The voice is strong and penetrating , the performance powerful , if not always certain . In a well judged decision Harper is accompanied by a string and brass ensemble , with Fiona Brice assuming the mantle of the sadly departed David Bedford . For most of the songs Harper is joined by a second guitarist – Bill Shannon .
Harper has always displayed a gift as a circuitous raconteur – you never know how the anecdote is going to link back to the next song and it frequently doesn’t . But it never seems to matter. He has complete control of the sell out crowd . He recounts how a contemporary recently confided he was still only 35 to which Harper thought “You are older than me then – I am only 18 ” . In a mark of maturity he only thought it .
Allusions Always Date You
Introducing the second song he said if he looked at a beautiful woman – Taylor Swift seemed to loom large in his mind – he still saw his younger self but she saw “Alf Garnett ” And there you have it – it’s the allusions which always date you .
Pleasingly the audience had by and large grown old disgracefully . Wispy grey hair in 70s styles coupled with ” Forever Changes” T-shirts and other less appropriate choices – Black Sabbath and Huey Lewis were two I spotted .
The achingly emotive ” Another Day” – it turns out , against expectation , to be inspired by an unconsummated relationship – brings tears to the eyes . The strings are beautiful . The show builds to the sweeping majesty of ” Me and My Woman ” as a finale .
An Old Cricketer
Roy returns to the stage with an encore : ” When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease ” …….Do you know ……….
I think I will be seeing him again ……….
and this is a man who was expected to die in 1973 – as marked by the LP Lifemask
Sharing ideas and experiences drawn from 30 years as a Public Service Leader . Firm believer in the value of Public Service and the importance of vision , strategy , communication and engagement in making a positive difference to people’s lives .Hopefully helping make sense of what often seems a complicated world .