Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *
Steve Harley at the Epstein Theatre, Liverpool. March 2019. Photograph by Ian D. Hall.
There are moments when you recognise just what the simple act of singing, as an audience, to the performer who has had you gripped in their words and music for a couple of hours can do to them, the acknowledgement that love is mutual, that this simple act can reduce them to a stunned state of happiness and perhaps sees them leave the stage with their emotional state of self-criticism reduced to the point of non-existence, lost for words but thanking all who can see their face as they move to the wings with the symbolic gesture of the nod of the head, the motion of reciprocated appreciation.
It was such a gesture that saw Steve Harley, his friends and members of the trio, Barry Wickens and James Lascelles and his support for the one show, the astonishingly creative Mackenzie James Cregan, leave the Epstein Theatre stage after almost three hours of music: (Harley was) stoic, proud, a gentleman of the genre to whom it must be said has always had Liverpool and its people as his barometer of how a crowd will respond to his work, always perhaps a bit surprised of just how much he is admired in the city.
Admiration perhaps, or it could be a tender love, a respect of just how Steve Harley has always lived his life and how his creative mind has recognised beauty in each passing face, how much he is the epitome of the esteemed musician poet, arguably a writer in the same mould that shaped Bob Dylan, but with the added spark of British humour and self-deprecation which is hidden behind the self-confident poise in which songs such as Sebastian and Journey’s End (A Father’s Promise) will always testify to.
Time and a word, both were in abundance as Steve Harley, James Lascelles and Barry Wickens took to the Epstein Theatre stage and proceeded to give arguably one of the finest acoustic evenings to have been produced in the city, delicate, smooth, scintillating and all with the lyrical poise of a seasoned actor delivering the sonnets of Shakespeare to a room full of the heady and the beauty drawn. It is though his own work that makes him one of the most widely recognised lyric writers, and in a world which seeks heroes, it is arguably right to say with confidence that if people looked to the composition rather than the vanity of life, then songs such as Judy Teen, Ordinary People, The Coast of Amalfi, Mr. Raffles (Man It Was Mean) and the finale, the grand moment in which the hero left the stage, Tumbling Down would be recognised as pure poetry in motion.
There are moments in which you know that symbolic love between audience and performer are caught in the headlights of introspection and regard, for Steve Harley this was arguably the moment in which Liverpool’s music crowd’s love for him was permanently and forever sealed.
Ian D. Hall