BUNCH OF FIVES: Nick Harper | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

A sensory Bunch of Fives from singer-songwriter and guitarist Nick Harper, whose career has given him countless experiences in contrasting locations. It may be a cliché but he literally grew up around music from childhood and into a career as a recording and touring musician. He arrives at The Cluny 2 on Saturday 23rd March to promote his latest album, Tempus Fugitive (his fourteenth to date). The CD and download options have been available since the end of last year but a vinyl version will accompany the UK spring tour. We asked Nick to choose some of those musical experiences which particularly piqued his five senses and made a lasting impression.


Seeing all of the musician friends of my Dad (Roy) on stage and up close and personal as I grew up was a profound experience for me. So seeing Led Zep at Earl’s Court in ’75 is unforgettable. I remember not being able to take my eyes off Bonzo, seeing how all the elements of a supreme rock band are put together, marveling at the spectacle of the dry ice flowing off the front of the stage, but then at another juncture, seeing my Dad and Jimmy Page playing acoustically, sat next to me just jamming, drinking, laughing etc. I guess I saw the magic unfold as a (very young) fan and from inside the inner sanctum too. Quite a privilege!


I’ve been lucky enough to be in the room with some of the all-time greats and hear them play. One of the greatest has to be Chester-Le-Street’s own rock god, Geordie of Killing Joke. His unique riffs, lines and chords, through his Gibson Scotty Moore (ES295) cranked in stereo through his twin 8×10 stacks of Burman Amplification (also from a nearby parish) was a thing of immense power. Almost terror-inducing yet emanating an awesome beauty and grace. Huge, warm, melodic and round yet as lethally threatening and razor sharp as a six-string scimitar. Geordie very sadly left us all to it last year, but the sound of his guitar will reverberate around my being until I join him. Check out this singular artist on Killing Joke recordings.


Musicians often talk about “feel” but it is really an individual, amorphous quality that is hard to define. Art is subjective. Physiology is unique. Expression is a mix of constituents that change over the years and also from one moment to the next. Who do I think has great ‘feel’? Well, I think every musician has something to portray, somewhere along the line that will inspire and move you. Art is about bringing us together in a “Yes, I feel that too” shared moment. Every genre has genius at work. Music is my favourite gateway to explaining the mysteries of life and making sense of chaos but without using words or self-help techniques or spiritual guidance, none of which are as satisfying as a piece of cherished music for me. Oh but if you want to feel joy brought to life on a guitar fret-board – listen to some Django Reinhardt!


Ah yes the heady mélange of aromas that accompany the history of rock! The potent scent of the mosh pit. The lingering smoke and alcohol of last night’s gig in da club still clinging to the ether. The fug of patchouli in the mystic tent at the tree festival. The fret board essential oil and lemon juice. The essence of fear and excitement at the enormo-dome sound check. The ‘new car’ smell of opening that guitar case for the first time. The unmistakable whiff of the shark pack circling the teenage TikTok sensation in the shallows. The disproportionately powerful advance warning of the Service Station travel-sized Lynx Africa used for French baths by the band who’ve been in a Transit van for over a month. The intoxicating smell of new Sharpies at the merch stall. This medley of smells and more can all be yours at live shows across the land. Through the sense most connected to memory, you too can capture moments you will never forget, although some you would rather. So breathe deep and get out there folks it’s a wonderful whiffy old world!


Taste is such a personal thing that there is little point in trying to explain it. My tastes range from innovative acoustic guitarists like Davey Graham, Bert Jansch and Django to bands like Gang of Four, Pink Floyd, Killing Joke, Public Enemy and Led Zeppelin, maverick genius like Frank Zappa, Dave Graney, Roy Harper, Stephen Stills, Jeff Buckley and Ry Cooder. And that’s just some of the musicians! I hope there are a few names there that are new to you or some to rediscover, but whatever – enjoy your own musical journey…


Like this story? Share it!

Subscribe to our mailout