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Review: Ed Harcourt

Marcus Carter 2010-11-07

Brewhouse - November 5. There's a problem being a lone troubadour touring without a band. How do you fill a 2 hour slot and keep the audience enthused? Do you bring out the cannons and fireworks? (It is after all bonfire night). Do you have sequined clothing and go- go dancers? Or do you bring with you a shed load of microphones and "all the devil's instruments"?

Ed Harcourt chooses the later and boy does it work! Opening with "Lustre", which is the title track of the new rather excellent album, we are treated to a glimpse of what's to come. Ed moves between his song mic to one that turns his lone vocal into achoir of harmony. The effect is stunning.

But it's not all about the microphones and technology. Ed has a bag of new tunes up his sleeve that are the best of his career. No one is disappointed by a set that is new tune heavy. Having only listened to the new album a couple of times the songs already feel like old classics and to be honest they far outshine the older tunes on display this evening.

Harcourt is something of a multi-instrumentalist moving easily from piano to banjo to guitar (left and right handed) to drums and...trombone. Yes the "devils instruments" as he names them are all here. One wag in the audience points out that there's no violin. Ed disputes the violin as being one of Satan's - although a fellow with song titles such as "Lustre" and "Lachrymosity" is surely aware of the countless literary accounts of Lucifer's skill on the fiddle.

The highlights are too many to pick out but "Misguided" is amazing - Harcourt looping instruments into a frenzy that starts by sounding like Tom Waits and ends up as a glorious (and he'll hate me for saying this) Bono-like mad preacher rant.

They say the devil has the best tunes. Well, if so, Ed Harcourt is sitting at the top table in purgatory.

Rating: 5/5

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