HARRY MANX and URBAN TURBAN

Date: 6 February 2004
Venue
: Capilano College Performing Arts Theatre, North Vancouver

Reviewer: Patricia Fleming

 

Harry Manx in action

From One Ganges to Another might have been an appropriate name for the Harry Manx concert last Friday (he resides these days on Saltspring Island) as the performance by Harry and his Quartet, Urban Turban, was full of bluesy, Indian-infused music. The packed house, many of whom have followed Harry’s career closely, (going by the warm comments from hecklers in the audience), were treated to a first rate evening of folk, blues and bluesy rock.

This was the first Canadian gig for the opening act, Yeshi, a German-born, Australian-residing, Imbira player. The Imbira is a thumb instrument used by the Shona people in Zimbabwe, and has twenty-eight keys forged from metal (he thought this one might have been assembled from an old Safeway type shopping cart – conditions being what they are in present-day Zimbabwe). Yeshi, a long time friend of fellow troubadour Harry, started his set with a modern piece about contemporary Zimbabwe’s blues, and followed it with a more traditional song about going to paradise. He ended with a nice rendition of Bob Marley’s 'No Woman, No Cry' (which he said was more well know in Zimbabwe than the national Anthem, such is the influence of Bob) . The stage was beautifully lit throughout, and the sound resonated very nicely throughout the theater. It’s hard to have a bad seat in this intimate venue.

To get us in the blues-groove, Harry opened up on guitar with the great Van Morrison classic 'Crazy Love' and then switched to Banjo for the that old BB King standard, 'The Thrill has Gone', before introducing Urban Turban, the three members group of musicians accompanying him. There was a Tabla player from Victoria, A female vocalist from Boise and a keyboard player from Calgary (who also engineered Harry’s latest CD). Their collaboration added a really good up tempo dimension to some of Harry’s earlier recordings (where he worked solo) and on new tunes where the harmonies and Tabla worked beautifully.

 

 

 

 

 

Their first number together, I’m Sitting on top of the World starts out in Delta, Mississippi mode, and then India was calling and we’re transformed to the Ganges via the 24 stringed Mohan Veena. What a beautiful sound! Having spent time in India, it took me back to those spiritual spaces and sent shivers down my spine. The next number, 'Make Way for the Living' introduced the beautiful, strong vocals of Emily and a very soulful but funky presence at the same time. The next five tunes showcased the versatility of Harry and Urban Turban and their various instruments: harmonica on you’re a light to yourself, banjo on 'Little Cruel', and a great up tempo version of 'Don’t forget to miss Me'.

Apart from his wonderful musicality, Harry has a nice, easy way with the audience, and there were fun, impromptu comments back and forth with the sound man. After the intermission they played some songs from his new CD (which he vaguely insists is called West Eats Meat) and my favorite piece of the evening - a bluesy/Indian/gospel number with a beautiful spiritual edge previously recorded on an earlier CD but given dimension with Emily’s additional vocals. Then he rocked it up a bit with the Jimmy Hendrix number 'Voodoo Child' with a great Tabla solo, some great keyboard work and a real showcase piece for Emily’s voice. Very nice. Next came a bluesy rocking version of 'The Ways of Love' followed by the great 'Help Me' by Sonny Boy Williamson – and lastly, the Muddy Waters number 'I Can’t Be Satisfied'.

The two encore pieces 'Take This Hammer' a beautiful folksy/banjo piece and 'Good Time Charlie', a bluesy/folk number both with lovely harmonies wound up an excellent concert. I could have stayed for a couple of more hours of this music: a nice mixture of old Harry favourites, given a new twist with the addition of the appealing Urban Turban.

. 2004, Patricia Fleming

 

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