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LIVE MUSIC MELBOURNE

Every week I do my best to try and get out of the studio and muster up the courage to battle the cold (much like Jon Snow from Game Of Thrones except, I have no sword fighting skills or experience riding fire-breathing dragons) and then, get myself out to see some live music.

Last week I had the pleasure of going to see the talented, “Harts” guitarist extraordinaire and budding music producer play live for the, “Jimi Hendrix Tribute Show.” Ever since I heard Daydreamer, Harts first album release in 2014, I have been a fan. Not long after being knighted by Prince himself with, “he reminds me of me when I was that age,” and soon after going to Prince’s house in Paisley Park for a little impromptu jam. Not bad at all!

Harts Melbourne

We arrived at Melbourne Recital Centre just as the bells started to chime. Soon after taking our seats, I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be the appropriate venue for such an event. Jimmy Hendrix seated Rock n’ Roll. The stage looked impressive and both my mates who sat beside me were equally excited and ready to be blown away!

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There’s nothing that quite excites me more than seeing an artist live but in many cases, it has been either a make or break situation when seeing artists live whom I admire.

The show began comprised of one drummer left of stage, bass player right of stage and Harts dead front centre. Although I have never known Jimi Hendrix’ songs like the back of my hand, I still held a high appreciation for the music he created and was ready to be educated.

 The lights went up and 2 songs in I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed. Presented with poor sound in the first two tunes and guitar down low, it felt as if Harts was awkwardly trying to command attention with his seated rock n roll audience. There is no doubt that Harts guitar playing skills are high up there with the best, but when it came to playful banter with the audience, it felt at times, incredibly artificial and uncomfortable, one could say, slightly conceited and brat like.

The show went on and Harts spent a good 80% of the show either soloing towards the wall to the side of the auditorium or with his back to the audience jamming along with his drummer. At one stage we even had the pleasure to learn of the drummers name and for much of the show, Harts’ bass player seemed like that kid on side of stage who wanted to join the band ever so badly but with all his will, ability and talent, just couldn’t quite get the affirmation he so deserved, to the point that Harts never even introduced him, through the entirety of the show.

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We were now about half way in and Harts introduced onto the stage female front woman, Sarah McLeod from Superjesus. Right from the beginning of the song she dominated and commanded attention, like any lead singer should. Rock n roll Screams and yells with a ferocious and powerful voice certainly did justice to what the music demanded. Alas, we sat in our chairs and bobbed our heads along even though I felt like moshing up and down like a rock n roll teen once would and of course should!

Boom! The song finishes and she walks awkwardly off stage, no high five from Harts, no wink, nothing! Well… that was odd I thought to myself, maybe they just are just not fond of each other hence the lack of chemistry on stage.

A few tracks later another female lead singer from the band Saskwatch, Nkechi Anele. Not only the host of Triple J’s specialist music show “Roots ‘n All but also an accomplished singer in her own right.

“Nkechi,” was strong, sexy and powerful and stood side of stage letting her body move and groove to the music. Harts, dead and centre, stared mesmerised by his own guitar the through the duration of her performance, not once making eye contact or any form of connection as a performer should with his colleague! It did the song no Justice! Through the whole song she was staring straight through Harts and rocking the side of the stage. Ironically much of the time prior of which Harts spent staring in that direction soloing towards the auditorium walls. Song finished. Nkechi awkwardly walks off stage. By far, the weirdest live collaborative performance I have ever seen, zilch chemistry and by no fault of lead singer from Saskwatch. She couldn’t have tried to squeeze it out of him harder.  

Nkechi Anele Saskwatch.jpg

At this stage, my friends and I pulled out a small flask of rum and started passing it round in hope that we could forget or at least embrace the awful banter and uncomfortable performances we had just witnessed.

Half way through Harts begins to tell his story and association with the Jimi Hendrix foundation mentioning to the audience, “I don’t know why they let me be a part of this,” with much of the audience in complete agreement. The band walks off stage and Harts comes back on with a different jacket. Harts approaches his keyboard and some other electronic device that the audience cannot see.

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For the next 10-15 minutes we hear Jimi Hendrix voice play through the speakers. From what I gathered, Harts plays pad chords over the top of it, but no one was really sure. A lack of video visuals in the background and completely absurd and disinteresting musically, left the audience perplexed.  Harts slouched over with head down, it felt as if we were in the home studio with Harts as he tried to figure out what chords will sound best with this new A Capella. Finally, Harts moves back to the guitar and then continues to play with the Jimi voice over. My friend whispers in my ear, “Guitarioke,” possibly, the most entertaining and amusing part of my night.

Throughout many stages of the show I sat there in hope that Harts would show some humility. Although I have no doubt that Prince held a healthy dose of arrogance in his younger years I felt that maybe Harts is just completely unaware of how he presents himself on stage. Without doubt, he is talented but the art of performing is something that requires work and attention and I feel that Harts has not invested nearly as much time into the art form of performance as he has with his playing and production skills.

One highlight of the night is when the band slowed down and Harts commenced a slow blues number which was a clear passion as his playing was incredible and the sound of the guitar really had it’s moment to shine. Aside from the show pony tricks and agility, we really had a moment to enjoy Harts ability and musicality.

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And surely enough, after that wonderful moment, Harts then commenced to tell the audience, “This was just a test tonight to see if people will like it,” (Despite that people forked out $55-$65 a ticket) “and we didn’t even practise the songs, the band completely improvised everything we played.”

 Ha… go figure.

We finally made it to the end of the night, an empty flask, a few giggle here and there and one of the worst shows I’ve seen in a long time.  

Harts finishes the encore, doesn’t quite smash the guitar but from the neck throws it up into the air, the guitar awkwardly, like much of Hart’s performance, hits the stage and then proceeds to walk off like a spoiled brat leaving the audience standing and staring like, WTF?

If this is rock ‘n roll, then rock ‘n roll is dead.

…that bass player though, what’s his name?

Spike Leo