Metro Theatre, 03/03/17
Although it’s a mean thing to say, and even meaner to write, in a way it was good to hear that Harts had been sick last week. It proves that he’s actually just one of us! At age 24, the Melbournian has already carved out an impressive space for himself in the Australian music scene which continues to get bigger and bigger. Only 6 months ago he was playing Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory, whereas now it’s the Metro Theatre. This is of course made all the more impressive by the fact that he plays all the instruments on his albums, effortlessly swapping between bass, guitar, drums, keys and vocals. But he still gets sick!
“I could barely talk two days ago” he told the crowd early on in the set. “I nearly cancelled tonight, but I’m glad to be here!” he declared to loud cheers. His voice definitely seemed shakier than usual on Friday night, and seemingly intentionally buried in the sound mix, but for Harts this doesn’t matter all that much. The musician doesn’t speak with his voice, he speaks with his guitar. * cue collective groans *
Yes, that’s a hokey statement to make, and definitely a cliche, but it’s impossible to describe Harts’ skills without using them. Seriously, he shreds more effectively than an InfoStop*. As I’ve admittedly said before, it’s impossible to even air-guitar along to his riffs and solos without causing serious wrist injuries. Harts is an excellent musician…and he definitely knows it!
Latest album Smoke Fire Hope Desire is a glorious piece of indulgence featuring extended solos, instrumental breakdowns and even jam-based interludes. Supported by a bassist and drummer, but unfortunately no horn section yet, Harts translates this approach to the stage, strutting around like he owns the place, dropping to his knees, playing guitar behind his head and constantly teasing the audience with statements like “Do you mind if I play my guitar for a bit?”. Behaviour like this could easily backfire, but it only serves to make Harts’ shows even better.
Tracks like ‘Fear In Me’, ‘Peculiar’, ‘Lovers in Bloom’ and ‘Breakthrough’ are all ferocious funk monsters and find the crowd chanting along to both their lyrics and guitar licks as Harts went nuts on stage. Songs often gave way to extended jams and, in the case of encore track ‘All Rise’, got an exciting new facelift. Set closer ‘Power’ definitely received the biggest response of the night, with the volume of the crowd meaning that Harts’ slightly shaky vocals didn’t even matter. Impressive considering it’s one of the latest songs he’s released. This is the biggest venue the musician had ever played, but he still felt perfectly at home. I have a strong feeling we’ll be in an even bigger room next time he struts into town.
* That’s right, I now name-drop obscure office technologies in articles.