There are some artists who, while being members of popular bands, never became quite popular themselves. Some of them choose to stay in the shadow, away from boogie nights and showbiz and live a normal life, while some others decide to stay focused on the music they like and serve it from various posts. Mick Harvey falls into the second category. He is the dormant hero behind not only Bad Seeds, but also PJ Harvey, Birthday Party, Crime and The City Solution and many more, plus the composer of many film soundtracks and producer for a couple more artists that even he himself, I am sure, cannot list all of them.
In contrast to his melancholic music, Harvey was a chatty, communicative conductor
With such a CV someone would expect that Mick Harvey would be anything but a down-to-earth guy who came by taxi to the venue and at the end of the concert had small talks and drinks with the audience. On stage Harvey was a bit different from what I was expecting. In contrast to his melancholic music, Harvey was a chatty, communicative conductor with a good sense of humour. The opposite to that shadowy figure I remember from Nick Cave and Bad Seeds’ concerts couple of years ago.
JP Shilo was the man of the night
The band, consisting of Yoyo Röhm (bass), James Cruickshank (organ), JP Shilo (guitar, piano), and Toby Dammit (drums), was accompanied by four violinists and two female vocalists (Xanthe Waite and another one, who’s name I didn’t get) who did an excellent job. Taking into consideration that all of them, except Shilo and Cruickshank I think, are not in Harvey’s permanent band, seemed to have practiced a lot. JP Shilo was the man of the night though, with his guitar, played a role that Harvey has also played a lot in his career. He was the song colourist, according to whom the rest of the band was tuned. A small notice though, in many songs the Waite’s voice was a bit low, making difficult for us to follow the lyrics. I don’t know if that was a fault of the sound engineer or her voice is really so low…
The whole show was a surrealistic experience orchestrated by Mick Harvey
The whole show was a surrealistic experience orchestrated by Mick Harvey. An Australian artist translates, plays and sings a bunch of songs of the legendary French composer, Serge Gainsbourg, accompanied by a multinational band in front of a German speaking crowd. That’s exactly what scholars could define as “respatialization of social space”, while I would just call it “surrealism”.
An enthusiastic encore
More than 20 songs were included in Harvey’s set list, 69 erotic fear, Bonnie & Clyde, New York USA, Ford Mustang are some of Gainsbourgs’ all time classics, but Harvey managed to put his own personal imprint on them. After an enthusiastic encore, Harvey left the stage with a mute agreement that he will come back to Berlin soon, throwing another baroque show. And he’s more than welcome!
Review by Anastasis Koutsogiannis