The Tanners Arms
10th April 2016
I was baffled when I saw this venue tucked away on Harty’s UK Tour dates; as I know the pub well and hadn’t previously associated it with Americana or Rootsy music; primarily Hippity–Hoppity Disco nights and teenage Indie bands.
Nevertheless I made my excuses to Mrs. Magpie and made my way across Newcastle for the 6pm start on a Sunday afternoon.
When I walked in a Rock Covers band of mature years were belting out a Fabulous Thunderbirds song in the corner of the bar; so before ordering a beer I confirmed that Josh Harty was actually playing the venue; “I think so. Is he American?” The bar keep mumbled.
As I sipped my beer, the band desecrated another couple of songs before it was announced that ‘Josh Harty will be on stage in 10 minutes.’ With a heavy heart I made my way across the room, to find that the dozen or seats were already taken by regulars; leaving a big barren space between the ‘stage’ and the customers; coupled with me finding a spare chair and sitting about 4 feet to the singers left.
Thankfully a charming young lady from Harty’s entourage introduced herself; and offered to note down the set list; allowing me to concentrate on taking photos and look a right fool scribbling notes with everyone staring.
Eventually an embarrassed looking Josh Harty finished setting up his mic and guitar; and decided that the crowd wasn’t going to get any larger (it kept getting smaller as people kept walking in front of him to go outside for a smoke).
After a short and nervous introduction Josh slid into You & I from the Attic Sessions, and I noticed a couple of rosy cheeked regulars nodding their heads and smiling as the lovely song ended.
After a couple of faltering jokey intros, the good looking American soon relaxed into his songs; and gave up introducing them.
I’m a recent convert; so loved discovering Long Time Coming Down and the delightful World of War; but it was final run in that managed to silence the chattering classes in the bar; and had me smiling like a ninny.
Starting with English Rain, which is my favourite track on the latest album, then Harty’s interpretation of John Martyn’s May You Never (which followed) deserved a much larger audience than the pitiful one that heard it tonight.
Next up was the title track of that new album; Holding On and it was obvious that the crowd were now completely won over; judging by the twinkle in several eyes at the back.
Then; as probably every Americana/Country/Roots act did in that 72 hour period he sang a Merle Haggard song in memory of the great man who died a day before. While I’m not a Haggard fan myself; I did like Mama Tried anyway; and Harty’s version was quite beautiful in its simplicity; and managed to get two of the Rock band to stand and applaud as it finished.
The 50 minute set closed with another new song, Shiver in the Dark and a wonderful gig came to a close.
I normally don’t introduce myself to pop-stars (?) but felt I had to tonight; congratulating Josh on a marvelous performance despite ‘the venue.’
He was quite philosophic about the situation; as he had particularly wanted to ‘play’ Newcastle on the Tour; but getting gigs is becoming increasingly more and more difficult if you try to save fees by doing it all yourself.
So; dear readers……Support Live Music, especially artistes who write and perform their own material; but I guess you know that anyway, don’t you?