Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ben Harper

On Monday last week, the Paul Hymans Gang, together with some other friends, went to see Ben Harper. This wasn’t the first time I saw one of his concerts, as I’ve also seen him playing, together with his Innocent Criminals, at Rock in Rio Festival, in Lisbon, two years ago. That first time, it was summer, very warm, quite late in the evening and with a crowd of almost 100.000 people. This time, it was much cosier. Forest National is a rather small place and the room wasn’t even full. Even though I usually like big audiences and open-air venues, I have to confess that I liked this concert more. Ben Harper’s combination of shuddering funky soul and folky acoustics seems to work better when it is possible to communicate with the audience, embracing every single spectator in the show, as he did in Brussels by singing without using the micro! His combination of classical elements, blues revivalism and jam sessions, grants him the appreciation of critics and college kids alike, which allowed him to build a solid and dedicated fan base. This was also possible to remark in Forest National, in which a diverse, yet dedicated audience, engaged completely in the concert, contributing to its huge success. From the amazing slide guitar solos to the politically heavy messages, from the musical experimentation to the individual declamation, from the blues-oriented alternative folk to the middle mainstream, everything was perfect! From the opening with “With My Own Two Hands/War” to the closing with “Better Way”, Ben Harper pleased everyone and gave an amazing performance from any perspective you might want to consider! Awesome!

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