Review of Nick Harper's "Love Is Music" DVD

Bob Jacobs's picture

Rating: *****

 Made by Mike Last, this film offers a fascinating insight into Nick’s abilities and standing among musical cognoscenti, including film of the amazing string-changing mid-song feat that seems to have become his trademark.  There are full performances of some of his best songs and many snippets of others, together with explanations of what they’re about (Kilty Stone, for example).  His old man makes several appearances and Nick indulges in some playful reminiscences about his childhood, showing us the garden where he played as a child and which Roy wrote about in The Flycatcher.  Celebrity interviewees, singing Nick’s praises, include Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, Mike Read the DJ, a bloke from The Levellers and Roy himself.  But the bulk of the material is Nick performing his songs in all their glory, alone on acoustic guitar.  He gives full rein to his magnificent voice, exploring the higher registers and indulging in a few enormously prolonged notes, held to perfection to the very end, and thrashing that guitar or teasing complex melodies from it as required.  The experience is enhanced by some innovative camera-placings, especially the little camera on the end of the guitar neck, looking back down the strings to Nick’s dancing hands.  For the guitar-player, there are some interesting insights into Nick’s tunings and the reasoning behind them, as well as the fact that he uses a piano string for his deepest string.  For the rest of us, there are some wonderful performances.  I’d pick out Radio Silence, Aeroplane, She Rules My World, Kilty Stone and Bloom as my favourites; but on another occasion I could easily pick Karmageddon, By My Rocket Comes Fire and The Magnificent G7.  In the bonus material, we also get excellent recordings of Evo and Glenn Tilbrook singing his favourite Nick song, along with a rather disappointing interview of Roy by Nick.  The DVD’s cover includes a lovely little touch, a “free cut-out badge” of Nick that bears the legend “nick harper – the man who plays guitar like he’s wearing god’s underpants ™”.

 All in all, an excellent film and the bonus features really are bonuses.  No fan’s collection would be complete without this.  It can be ordered from Nick’s site: www.harperspace.com.  My copy was dispatched without delay, despite Nick’s being in The Himalayas, and reached me within a week, despite the postal strike.

 Bob Jacobs (my edit on 6/11/07 is merely to remove an intrusive apostrophe from "bear's" at the end of the penultimate paragraph)