Steve Harley performing at The Village Hall Lowdham Nottinghamshire on Friday 1st March 2019

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Steve Harley came to a sold out Village Hall in Lowdham last night to deliver an acoustic set with his long standing Cockney Rebel honchos, Barry Wickens and James Lascelles, and showed that he has lost none of that rebellious streak.

Entering the stage with the aid of a walking stick due to a broken hip not healing properly, he was seated for most of the evening.  Yet when he opened with a tender cover of Bob Dylan’s Love Minus Zero, his smooth yet gravelly tone instantly filled the hall.  With mobile phones firmly in pockets, the carefully constructed music and luscious lyrics on the likes of Loveless and That’s My Life In Your Hands, followed.

He reeled back the years with searing renditions of some of his unforgettable hits; Judy Teen, Mr Raffles (Man, It Was Mean) and Mr Soft.  There were other highlights including the simple poetry of the haunting A Friend For Life and the similar unconditional love of Journey’s End (A Father’s Promise).

Known as a man who does not suffer fools gladly (hence the pocketed mobiles), he broke up his music with tales galore, such as his encounters with Bob Dylan and his non-encounters with Van Morrison.  He explained that set closer Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) which is currently being used to promote the wonders of Viagra, financed the purchase of his Ferrari, and he was even self deprecating when he suggested that he had been reduced to playing in a Village Hall.

But it was the music that enraptured this crowd with a beautiful (Love) Compared To You and a crazy whirring Sling It enhanced by the masterful violin of Wickens and the keyboard of Lascelles.  Other standouts included The Lighthouse, The Coast Of Amalfi, and Sebastian with its apocalyptic acoustic progressive freak out.

Harley is undoubtedly a complex individual on stage but that is because he is a perfectionist.   He is fiery, immensely proud and mercurial but is a first class performer whose music is as poignant today as it was ground breaking in the 1970s.