Mick Harvey @ Elder Hall, Adelaide 14/3/2019
Mick Harvey strode on stage to huge applause. he is presenting us with a show called Intoxicated Man which is a selection of songs translated into English originally written by Frenchman Serge Gainsbourg. Mick has recorded four such albums and tonight he is joined by J.P. Shilo, Dan Luscombe, Glenn Lewis, Hugo Cran, Xanthe Waite and Sophia Brous, as well as the addition of a local string quartet.
Mick has been in the music business for many years forming both the Birthday Party and the Bad Seeds with Nick Cave. Tonight Mick was in “Le Grumpy Man” mode a little as he was bemoaning not hearing the strings, the bass amp not being plugged in and a few endings of songs not in sync. At one stage of the show, he stated: “It has been perilous”. I felt it was not as bad as he was saying. The man is a perfectionist and has presented this show many times over the years and it sounded wonderful to me. He has now included four new songs from the latest album called Intoxicated Woman. My friends advised me that he was actually quite jovial tonight when compared to previous shows.
There was a lot of duets tonight with Mick and Xanthe Waite and Sophia Brous as well as Xanthe and Sophia singing by themselves. There were many highlights tonight and the first for me was Xanthe singing on Harley Davidson and then dueting with Mick on Bonnie and Clyde. Sophia Brous did an incredible sultry version of The Eyes to Cry originally written by Serge and originally recorded by Nana Mouskouri. This was later followed by Xanthe singing the beautiful rollicking French pop of Puppet of Wax, Puppet of String. This song won Eurovision for Luxembourg in 1965 when France rejected the song.
Mick sang the melancholic Run from Happiness and to me, it showed where bands like Stereolab and Belle and Sebastian got some of their inspiration from. The last song of the set was Initials B.B. which has always been my favourite song from the four Serge Gainsbourg albums Mick has recorded. Dan Luscombe’s jangly piano and the incredible string quartet, Mick’s deep voice and the killer chorus by Xanthe and Sophia meant that there was always going to be an encore after this fantastic song.
I Envisage was the last song of the night and it sounded sensational and the closest to the brooding powerful sound of Mick’s previous bands. Let’s hope it is not too long before Mick comes to Adelaide again. I feel that the concept album The Fall And Rise Of Edgar Bourchier And The Horrors Of War by Mick would be perfect for the Cabaret Festival.
Fringe Review By Richard De Pizzol