(Jack Robert Hardman and Slow Dancer at The Lock Tavern; 25/05/16)
Literally as we arrived, Benedict Benjamin was packing away his guitar. Although I had seen him the night before, my friend tonight, had missed the opportunity. His upcoming show at The Finsbury: 13/06/16 however, is not to be missed.
The second act for tonight’s support came from London based singer-songwriter, Jack Robert Hardman, who had a really lively wit about him. Wry in person and song. Each song goaded by a sharpness of wisdom and yet helplessly romantic.
Opening with a song that he laughed off humbly as being: “…more stylish than it actually is”. Prior to playing, came personal tokens of dedication. A special moment arrived when his friend, Nick, joined him in a duet of The Rosettes’ ‘Be My Baby’; “This is to my favourite musical psychopath”. The harmonies between them, effortless.
Reincarnating a presence of 60’s song-songwriters, it seemed only a natural to give Roy Orbison a nod along the way: “…This next song is inspired by Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’, and if you don’t know who he is, then you’re dense” Jack taunted us, mockingly.
The night felt wonderfully homely, as though we had gathered in a family attic. Softly encased by the warm glow of red tea lights and fairy lights, circling a close knit gathering of us about the sofas and stools. Each us, silenced by the raspy vocals and acoustic guitar.
It was during the tuning of the last song which allowed for a greater interaction. “So this next song was written during the year of the olympics”. To which an audience member replied: “So what year was that then?” Jack’s sharp witted response had us all laughing: “I used to be a good kid, it went a bit downhill during the teenage years…” ‘Famous’ was a beautiful signature to his set. Understated and entirely memorable. I only wished I had tickets to see him at Glastonbury.
From the moment Slow Dancer began, we all just fell into a trance like state. Taken far out and beyond our daily monotony, we had to almost pinch ourselves to remind us it was still a Wednesday, and we was soon to go outside to British weather. Each track allotted together as though a jigsaw of past memorabilia of our own making.
Slow Dancer, a solo project of Simon Okely, from Western Australia, embodies this mediative warmth, unlocking and entering the minds of all, to provide a near out-of-body experience. Reaching emotional depth through slow, graceful affected guitar melodies. With the occasional songs of a “Nick Drake tuning” combined with the hypnotic breathy horse vocals, it made for an enchanting summery evening. It was one of those rare opportunities of setting out to see an artist you know but find yourself walking away elated by the discovery of another two, and very different, artists.
LET US GIVE YOU A LITTLE INSIGHT INTO THE NIGHT…
Photographer and Videographer: Elizabeth Andrade
Writer: Rachael Crabtree
Jack Robert Hardman