Talent showcase nights can be hit or miss, especially when you have never heard of the acts but in this case, the headline act was not only known but wholeheartedly and very eagerly anticipated. This was to be Harriet’s’ first, full band, full length gig – an opportunity not to be missed.
The venue was The Hospital Club, a private members’ club deep in the heart of London Town, unassuming in its external demeanour; deceptively expansive within its depth. The event was the monthly Hype night, run by Vin Goodwin. The 4th floor location was the Oak Room which filled up with guests to bursting point just in time for the 8pm start. At that moment, Vin bounded on stage and instantly set us all at ease.
First up, he introduced us to Tarun (http://www.facebook.com/tarun.shah.758) who entertained us all, including his parents, with 20 minutes of piano-playing soul music, spread over the unobtrusive accompaniment of his associated electronic wizardry. He has a very good voice and received full and undivided attention from the crowd.
Next up was Will Knox (http://www.facebook.com/willknoxmusic) who was joined on stage by Simon Lewis on cello and backing vocals. What a find they are. Together they played a very strong set, showcasing many of the songs from Will’s upcoming album. The crowd sat mesmerised and were hanging on his every word. Things were going really well until a string broke on his guitar as he was tuning up for the last song. Luckily a spare guitar was close at hand but it too required that complex tuning, so a few minutes passed as this was being achieved, during which time the crowd started to chat, talk and generally bustle about. Could it be that Will had lost his hypnotic power over them? Nothing of the sort. As soon as he was ready, the first chord brought the crowd right back into the fold and his final song proved to be just as magical as all the others. It was well worth the wait. Will and Simon performed impeccably and they won so many fans that night.
The main act was indeed Harriet and as the stage was set up for her 4 piece band, there was a buzz in the audience as they vied for a position to see her. She had already been spotted and chatted to by some fans in the audience as she was herself sat at a table, watching the preceding acts. When it came time for her to take the stage, Vin, with unashamed enthusiasm, introduced her to the platform.
If there was anyone in the audience who was unaware that they were about to be treated, they instantly knew it the moment she started to sing. Her voice has the same gorgeous sound that emanates from the songs we already know so well. Her vocals were pitch perfect and the band were spot on. The instrumentation was never too intrusive and so did not drown our her voice and both guitar and piano players were used as subtle and very effective backing vocalists. This enhanced the sound perfectly.
Starting off with two very familiar songs, What’s Mine Is Your and Afterglow, this was an ideal start for the Harriet fans. Then they launched into a blistering version of her current single Fly which everyone was well into. The crowd by this time knew they were seeing and hearing an audible feast and they were totally gorging on it all. The applause after each song grew and grew to the point where Harriet herself could only stand there, slightly bewildered by the sheer adoration she was receiving. It was very clear that she is still new to the fact that people really are deeply moved by her music.
She played two new songs which went down just as well as all the others. She also stated that she is recording a covers EP. While her own song writing is by no means in doubt, when Harriet covers someone else’s song she has the unwitting propensity to redefine the song as her own. She has already done this with the 10cc song I ‘m Not In Love (http://soundcloud.com/harrietsmusic/im-not-in-love-mp3) and here at The Hospital Club she sang Michael Jackson’s She’s Out Of My Life and managed to claim that song as hers too. It was an amazing heartfelt version.
Then it was finale time and she closed her set with First And Last, a song she co-wrote with Judy Tzuke. The crowd erupted in applause and it was immediately clear they were having none of this empty stage nonsense. Instantly on their feet, their collective chanting successfully brought Harriet back for a well deserved encore. Resignedly she admitted that she had no more songs prepared so we all persuaded her to play Fly once more and the entire audience became involved with clapping and singing along. It was a wonderful sight to see and the perfect song to end a magical night of music.
After the concert, there was the chance to thank her and to buy her CD which gives a superb 4 track introduction to her music. Her album is presently being recorded but the covers EP will fill the gap until its release onto the unsuspecting public. They will not know that has hit them.
Talent showcase nights can be hit or miss. This one was hit after hit. Harriet is a true star in the making and for those attending who did not know about her before, they certainly will do now. Unforgettable.
Hopefully, very soon, she will play Edinburgh.
Duncan Watson, 18/06/15.