Indie legend Grant Hart still enthrals in intimate circumstances
It may be Hallowe’en outside, what with its high camp spookiness, marauding gangs of feral children, spray cobwebs and pools of blood everywhere, but in the ... all such silliness is left well outside.
Instead we have a bunch of pasty-faced, vinyl toting music nerds, packed in several rows deep and champing at the bit to see Mr Hart do his stuff. The former Husker Du / Nova Mob man, who recently launched his seventh solo record, is the very definition of a cult hero – writer of some of the indie underground’s most beloved and timeless numbers, he takes the stage with neither ceremony or pretension and charmingly chats to the crowd, completely relaxed, while he gets himself set up. One mic and one battered but beloved guitar is all it takes to start things off, as he whips into an impassioned “You’re The Reflection Of The Moon On The Water”. An enthralled, fully engaged crowd is treated to a selection of his greatest hits, mostly culled from his solo catalogue but with a few Huskers numbers thrown in for good measure. We get the delicate melodies of “California Zephyr, “2541” from early in his solo career, and “Admiral Of The Sea” interspersed with Huskers classics “Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill” and the anthemic “Never Talking To You Again”. While the latter song was recorded without drums and bass, the rawer, haunting quality of the sound produced by his set up sans backing band lends an increased authenticity to much of the material here – particularly an emotional “Pink Turns To Blue”. Unafraid to play with the melodies or arrangements, what we get is almost a whole new take on many of these numbers, particularly for me having never seen him live before. He returns for an encore which the crowd demand, and what an encore; we get a plaintive, stripped-down “Bluey Green Eyes” followed by “She Floated Away”, both among his most memorable compositions from his time with his first band. While I would have loved to hear “Diane” and “No Promise Have I Made”, overall it is hard to be disappointed when you see such a legend on really great form. I’ll be back for his next London show, I guarantee it...
Grant Hart Live @ The Miller 31st October