Fringe: Nick Harper

Nick Harper performing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe (PIc: Cath Ruane)
Nick Harper performing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe (PIc: Cath Ruane)
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For first time fans these gigs are the perfect introduction to Nick Harper, the man and the musician

Nick Harper

The Jazz Bar, Chamber Street (Venue 57)

Rating ****

It’s the curse of the singer-songwriter who picks up an acoustic guitar has to be compared to someone else.

Maybe it’s time to celebrate their own unique strengths and approach to music - and in the case of Nick Harper, there’s so much to savour.

A voice that soars through a remarkable range from a whisper to a scream, a playing style that sees him coax more out of his acoustic guitar than most - he adds notes and layers by tuning, de-tuning and then re-tuning all in mid song - and an easy-going manner that makes all of the above look effortless while delivering one heck of a sound.

It all makes for a heady mix, one that draws you into the music.

Harper begins the show unannounced after wandering round the venue warming up his guitar, and that easy-going approach sees him hop off stage mid gig to hand a cough sweet to someone in the crowd with a tickly cough.

But, above all, the music stands out.

For first time fans these gigs are the perfect introduction to Harper, the man and the musician - a great ‘getting to know you’ in an intimate setting

For existing fans, it’s a dream - gigs night after night.

And, for both, it’s an hour of outstanding music. Sixty minutes, the standard Fringe time slot, feels too limiting as Harper’s rich, and remarkable guitar work fills the room, and you get the feeling he’d happily play another hour..

The songs draw on personal memories - a first love, a whimsical memory, a journey with his grandfather and his son which reveals a story from his mum’s past , as well as moments in time that inspire him.

He explains how one event drew him to instantly pick up his guitar.

The end result?

A stunning version of Prince’s signature, Purple Rain,.given the full Harper treatment, but it’s Breathe that really showcases just what he can do as his vocals soar to the roof and builds a stunning song layer by layer.

A smashing gig - one that will surely add more fans to his following.

Run ends August 27

Allan Crow