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Live Review: Ed Harcourt – 16th November 2013 – The Islington Assembly Hall, London, UK

3 min read

The Islington Assembly Hall has a great feeling for gigs, with it being just large enough to get a great atmosphere – but just small enough that you get a rather personal feeling from any events there. This feeling seemed to greatly suit Ed Harcourt, who dropped by the Assembly Hall on his UK tour with Sweet Billy Pilgrim – a band fronted by his guitarist.

Sweet Billy Pilgrim providing a perfect opening for the gig, with their creative rock sound that took a step past standard grooves and feelings of the genre and made something that was fresh and interesting to listen to – with the band even venturing into what they referred to as “jazz rock fusion in 7/8.” These cleverly written songs drew in a crowd, making the hall (that was quite quiet at first) quickly fill up.

Once Sweet Billy Pilgrim had done their thing there was a short break, with the crowd eagerly awaiting the arrival of Harcourt to the stage. They weren’t left unsatisfied. The lights which had been turned on in the hall for the break between the two artists was dimmed as Ed took to the stage and began his first song, Dream Land, which set the tone perfectly which it’s beautiful piano parts doubled with dramatic vocals and lyrics. Harcourt continued this tone, playing more beautiful but dark songs based around his impressive piano and vocal skills. For Ed’s fourth song, World on Fire, one of Sweet Billy Pilgrim’s singers – Jana – came on stage to sing alongside him for the song (which was almost Bond Theme-esque in places).

After Jana left the stage Harcourt did a few songs with him playing guitar, after an initial “technical difficulty” that meant he had to restart his song Immoral that is. After a few songs with Ed on the guitar the band left the stage, giving him the opportunity to show of his skills as a solo singer and piano player. It was a nice part of the gig, dropping the level down a bit and giving everyone a chance to simply sway to the music and relax before getting back into his heavier material. Towards the end of Harcourt’s solo section he informed the audience that his wife, Gita, was going to be coming on stage to accompany him on the violin.

Once this quieter, more chilled out, section had ended we went back to the classic Harcourt sound with great songs such as Occupation Hazard, Love is in a Minor Key and Heart of Darkness. The change was perfect between the two feelings, it having given the audience a chance to let their ears relax before getting back into the heavier head-bobbing and foot stamping music that Harcourt has been going gradually more and more towards. Ed played all of these songs, and a few more tunes perfectly before leaving the stage – only to come back for not one, but two encores! The first time playing three songs, including his classic Born In The Seventies. The second time opting for just playing one track – Those Crimson Tears – for a chilled out end to the evening.

All in all the night was very enjoyable, Sweet Billy Pilgrim making a very suiting opening to the gig, and Harcourt not only holding the attention of the audience perfectly, but also getting them involved in the form of stamping and singing along until their legs and throats ached.

Set-List:

  1. Dream Land
  2. Time of Dust
  3. God Protect
  4. World on Fire
  5. Immoral
  6. Misguided
  7. We All Went Down With The Ship
  8. Do As I Say
  9. Something in My Eye
  10. Shadow Boxing
  11. Brothers and Sisters
  12. Hey Little Bruiser
  13. Occupational Hazard
  14. Undertaker Strut
  15. Love is in a Minor Key
  16. Heart of Darkness
  17. Parliament of rooks
  18. Saddest Orchestra
  19. Until Tomorrow Then
  20. Watching the Sun Come Up
  21. The Man That Time Forgot
  22. Born in the Seventies
  23. Those Crimson Tears