Steve Harley, Gig Review. Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool.

Steve Harley at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, November 2015. Photograph by Ian D. Hall.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

There are moments in life where the delicate, sometimes unseen hairs on the back of the hand and those that reside in the nape of the neck, rise with clear conscious at the sound of humanity doing what it does best, singing with unashamed passion from the same song book and with beauty in their hearts.

To understand Steve Harley’s gig at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool, a gig that made the gloom of the November sky feel less rigid, that took away the pain of thought that had rightly built up across right-minded people across the world as yet another nightmare took hold just across the channel, was to understand the effect that hearing the collected voice of an entire concert hall venue in unison pay homage to the end of the song Tumbling Down. The lights down low, the band ready to take a well deserved bow and revel in true adoration when the audience sings the refrain “Look what they’ve done to the Blues” over and over again with the same type of passion and solemnity that accompanies Gerry and the Pacemakers as they are played by the Voice of Anfield every other Saturday afternoon.

Steve Harley is a legend, of that there can be no doubt. He is one of the great survivors of the music world and he has managed to change the way that some genres are thought of. From Cockney Rebel to the rebel with a cause, the gruff and the bold, the lyrical Picasso who can weave gold from everybody else’s strands of leftover straw and to whom the song Sebastian is rightly considered one of the finest ever penned, this is a man who can bring joy and thought in equal bounding measure to an audience’s attention.

For the crowd at the Philharmonic Hall, this was surely to be seen as an absolute highlight of the year, the messenger of unseen Progressive dreams, of the Glam Rock and the solo artist offering a sense of perspective, as he stands on stage to an awaiting Liverpool audience, the truth that he has been part of their best years of their lives is inescapable.

To celebrate The Best Years Of Our Lives 40th Anniversary, the album and selected other tracks were played and the applause, the community spirit that followed is testament to the lyric writing that has always captivated and titillated the fans.

Opening with the cover of Here Comes The Sun, arguably the only song to start a Liverpool gig with, Steve Harley and the band, including Liverpool based duo The Mona Lisa Twins, performed two sets to a mixture of unabashed zeal and respectful nods of glee.

The Best Years Of Our Lives was given reverence and proudly listened to and songs such as Mr. Raffles (Man It Was Mean), the topical It Wasn’t Me, 49th Parallel and the wonderfully angry retort of Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me), both acoustically solo and with the full band, resounded across 40 years and the Philharmonic audience with overwhelming power and the sense of cool that can only attributed to the band’s determination to live in the moment and hug with gentleness the past.

There are true moments when humanity prevails, when love in all its glory stops the heart for just a moment and makes it glow like the formation of a new sun in the Universe, as Steve Harley and the band trooped off stage, the response was bordering on phenomenal; humanity revels in such moments.

Ian D. Hall

Original article