Gig review: Mick Harper & Mark Chadwick, Edinburgh

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IT WAS possible to feel sorry for the two standing men for being not a fraction as famous as the guy sitting in a chair with a crutch and a wounded foot, who claimed his slippers had been on for three days and that “they smell ’andsome”.

Mick Harper & Mark Chadwick

Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh

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Yet the trio appear to be big fans of real democracy with Nick Harper – son of Roy and an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right – and longstanding niche-market troubadour Rev Hammer (real name Stephen Ryan) accorded just as much stage time as Levellers lead singer Mark Chadwick.

All wielded acoustic guitars and a keen sense of where activist folk and politically conscious acoustic rock meet. Inevitably the funeral of Margaret Thatcher required a mention, and a suite of songs midway through framed the trio’s responses: Chadwick with the anti-war Another Man’s Cause; Harper with a tribute to Bolivian president Evo Morales, because there are apparently “too many sociopaths” in politics, the slight flamenco twist helping establish him as the most stylistically diverse of the three; and Hammer with a rail against “political leaders who hear the voice of God in their head,” his Estuary English mixed with Johnny Cash twang a unique combination.

A song-based gag about conflating their opinion on Scottish Independence with a harmonised version of KC and the Sunshine Band’s Please Don’t Go and a hollered finale of Hammer’s Down By the River O aside, each of the three took turns to perform in isolation while the others watched. It made for a diverse if similarly intentioned trio of styles, although when Chadwick struck up Just the One or Beautiful Day it was hard to avoid noticing the others looking almost sheepish.