Now it’s no secret around these parts how much of a Harts fan I am (for reference, please see previous Harts article I wrote, which consists of about 85% fangirling). I mean, how could you not be? Face melting riffs, provocative bass lines, salient vocals, and charisma… the guy’s got it all.
It’s been a massive year for Darren with new singles, an album and a bunch of shows; a master of his craft absolutely dedicating his life to making musical magic. So when news broke earlier in the year that this year would be the last for the Melbourne singer/songwriter, fans and critics alike literally lost their minds.
Playing a run of last shows before embarking on to the next chapter, Friday night took place at the Factory Theatre in Sydney, sporting a crisp spring night. A mixture of fans, hipsters, fellow musos, industry bigwigs and industry small-wigs gathered to catch the tunes of one of the most exciting and versatile acts Australia has to offer.
Not an overly large crowd, but I wasn’t complaining. I had come to dance and sway my hips. Tasks which are quite difficult when confined to a tight mosh. The Factory Theatre has a strange charm to it. On one hand, it has a great intimate setting which allows the performer and audience to be within very close proximity to each other. On the other hand, it has a way of making me feel like I’m at a nostalgic, daggy school function, moments of reminiscing included. This gig was no exception for both these things.
Harts’ band was going off like a hat in an RSL. Made up of a drummer, bassist, guitarist, saxophonist, trumpeter and keys player, the collective whipped their way through not only songs, but also musical interludes and low-key jam sessions throughout.
They had the crowd hopping and bopping from the start and showcased a fabulous array of both unique sound and singular mind-blowing talent.
Harts himself graced the stage with a boyish appeal, his long mop of hair drooping down in front of his face. Compared to previous Harts gigs I had attended, there seemed to be a slight drop in stage presence and confidence from the frontman.
“I’ve been ill lately” he mused, “two days ago I’d lost my voice”, a fact that was a clear factor in some songs, however not in others.
The clear hero of the entire show was his unbelievable guitar skills and musicianship. Slowing right down to a funky, blues style break down, I found myself enthralled watching Harts shred it up, each solo, more fiery than the last with elements of psychedelia and rock n roll apparent in all. Set highlights included the eccentric single, Ain’t Nothing On Me, hip and happening new bop, Shake Ya Pants, and older gem Power.
Towards the end of the evening in an astonishing turn of tune, Harts closed the set with a cover of Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix. As my face melted to the floor in the burning glory of that guitar solo, Harts casually hinted that a future endeavor of his would be a tour that sees him play Hendrix songs (oooooh gossip!). An idea that I can absolutely get behind.
Although the show lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, it was nice to see Harts on stage again enjoying himself, especially with such a tight and fierce band.
I look forward to seeing what the next chapter of his career holds in store for him and the paths he chooses to take from here.
Harts Australian Tour
November 29, Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC
November 30, Torquay Hotel, Torquay VIC