Steve Harley

& Cockney Rebel

Review from Classic Rock magazine

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Mick Jagger Centre, Dartford

Steve Harley has a unique presence: vulnerable yet belligerent at the same time.
At times he can be positively plaintive, particularly when referring to himself in the third person as ‘Little Steve’ – the boy who contracted polio and spent lonely years in hospital in the early 50s.

But Harley’s Cockney Rebel persona is never far away. You might recall his war with the music press nigh-on 30 years ago; tonight his somewhat softer targets were Hello! and Heat magazines (“Full of people I’ve never heard of”). He was also spot-on when he said people don’t take responsibility for their anti-social behaviour these days and ‘It Wasn’t Me’ (from 1975 album ‘The Best Years Of Our Lives’) took on a bitter contemporary edge.

A masterful electro-acoustic combo allowed Harley to play the acerbic troubadour to fine effect. The two-and-a-half-hour show was meandering but always compelling, and of course – with ‘Judy Teen’, ‘Make Me Smile’ et al – had plenty of uplift as well.

For the encore, Harley, his face lit from below, glared out spookily as he intoned to words to a bare version of the magniloquent ’Sebastian’. It was like being in the Rainbow Room in Biba’s all over again.

He may have seen his half-century some time ago, but Steve Harley retains the ability to dance on your heart.

Geoff Barton

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