Live Review |The Regent, Doncaster | Review by Allan Wilkinson
There should be a government health warning printed on each ticket to a Harvey Andrews gig that reads: Warning, drink coffee or eat chocolate at your peril and as for not turning off your mobile phone. Harvey is from the ‘old headmasters’ school of entertainers, where you feel you have to sit up straight, keep your mouth shut, speak when you’re spoken to and put your hands up when asked to do so. His fans love it. His overtly ‘grumpy old man’ persona is forgivable simply because he has a warm nature and a big smile. He can also write some good songs and often does. His sell-out appearance at the Monday Music Club at The Regent tonight brought together a capacity crowd of fans, most of whom probably remember him from his earlier days. They came along to hear songs like “Gift of a Brand New Day” and “Boothferry Bridge”, and in all fairness, they heard those songs as if it was indeed the Seventies, for Harvey has changed little over the years. His voice is still as clear and sweet as ever and his easy on the ear alternating bass finger picking style of guitar accompaniment remains the same as it’s always been. A highly prolific songwriter, Harvey has been singing in clubs all over the world for the best part of 43 years and much of his current repertoire centres around approaching his twilight years, with songs of a simpler time; elderly siblings reunited in “Grain of Sand” or pure nostalgia in songs like “When I Was a Boy” and “Cheeky Young Lad”. It’s not all wine and roses though, as he touches upon unhappier moments like broken marriages for instance in “I Didn’t Get the House”. Having once been a writer of what could be described as ‘protest songs’ Harvey now appears to be more concerned with the process of growing old. The introduction of a brand new song “Moon Over Callow” seems to be a touching meditation on ordinary suburban life, afternoon tea and a chat with the neighbours over the garden fence, and how well the shrubs and trees are looking at the moment. Not only a ‘writer of songs’ but now also a writer of books it seems, as he read out an amusing passage from his autobiography “Gold Star to the Ozarks”. Harvey stopped singing songs like “Soldier” and “Targets” presumably because they don’t seem to be relevant anymore. Even after a song like “Living in an Ugly World”, to which a brilliantly timed police siren sounded off midway, Harvey confesses that on the contrary, he believes we live in a beautiful world. “The problem though, is human beings”.