North Versus South: A Discussion on the merits of Harvey’s Comeback gigs

Art & Culture

So many events, so many reviews; it can get tiring.  Even a seismic event like DJ Harvey’s return to the UK, a straight-up review is only of limited worth.  What you’re after here is opinion – “was DJ Harvey all that?”, “does anyone care about him in the UK any more?” etc. etc… so at Ransom Note Towers we thought we’d be unashamed about it and just broadcast the opinionated discussion of two people that were standing on the same dance floor to witness Harvey at The Warehouse Project, namely Mike Boorman (our token northerner) and Editor, Wil Troup. 

Does it count as journalism?  Probably not.  But most online music journalism is shit, so we’re doing you a favour. 
Mike You came up from London during the week – made a bit of an effort – was Harvey worth it?
Wil  Well I love Manchester, always have.  Much as I love Harvey the hype had gotten a bit too much around the London gig, to the point where I wanted to side step the hype and head up to Manchester town to feel some Electric Chair-vibed Harvey instead.
Mike And yet, I think we would both agree, the night was even lower key than you’d have wanted… as good as it was, it kinda felt like a residents’ night.
Wil  Agreed.  But that was kind of what I liked about it.  The hype had died down on him a little and you were just left with a room full of ‘heads’.  That and a load cider and sambucca.  It felt more like when I used to work at Smithfields and he used to play for 8 hours in a basement to 200 people.
Mike On the matter of the Harvey hype… do you think it’s justified?
Wil What I think is important with all this is that it’s tied in with this ‘real house’ revival that’s brought a lot of people out of the woodwork again.  Clubs playing really interesting underground house that aren’t populated with Barries.  
Mike  “Barries” indeed!  But what kinda people are coming out of the woodwork?
Wil People from all ages… and kids are being turned onto this old shit.
Mike Right, I see, punters… reasonably intelligent punters, as opposed to just limited caners.
Wil Exactly, which I think is refreshing… mainstream electronic music events have become the confines of your ket heads with little or no interest in the music.
Mike It’s the ultimate quandary… how do you deliver accessible music, but still build up something that is perceived as cool?
Wil  Exactly.
Mike  Harvey has managed that.
Wil  Agreed completely.  So I think in that sense he did live up to the hype… he’s bringing credible music to a larger group of ‘knowledgeable’ people.
Mike These days, most DJs/producers tend to be hyped because of the sound/collective that they stand for
Wil As opposed to?
Mike As opposed to some of the Harvey hype, which is him as a performer, delivering a bit of madness, rather than just delivering a cool, narrow, sub genre, i.e. “the Visionquest sound”.
Wil Very good point.
Mike To me, although the night didn’t fully catch fire; the way he played was exactly as I’d hoped.
Wil Me too.
Mike His first two hours were superb: eclectic, but coherent.
Wil Amazing!
Mike His last two were just eclectic!
Wil When I walked in and he was playing an old Rams Horn record.
Mike What a beast!  (every pun intended).  Other highlights for me were Chilly – For Your Love and Frank Zander – Captain Starlight, very long edits so were most probably Harvey’s own.  Also Macho – I’m a Man.  But the real point was all the different styles… Hot Creations/Crosstown stuff, vocal house, pounding Underworld beats, rock, and lord knows what else.
Mike So do you think that WHP did the right thing by putting this on at such short notice?  Or could it have been done better elsewhere?
Wil Well I imagine his fee’s pretty high at the moment, cache ‘n’ all that.  I personally love Room 2 of WHP.
Mike They’re all good!
Wil And to dance in it when it wasn’t completely full.
Mike A rare privilege!
Wil So in that sense I’d say yes.
Wil And I really did have one of the best Thursday nights out I’ve had for a while.  It would’ve been nice if the decks had been on the floor or in the middle as per what they did in London.
Mike Indeed.  As we were discussing on the night, a Thursday night for us often consists of a combination of Jeremy Paxman, David Dimbelby and Michael Portillo, so it was always gonna be a good result for a Thursday!
Wil Haha… yeah!
Mike Although a Dimbleby Balaeric set would probably be worth watching.
Wil Now there’s a thought: Dimbleby / Harvey soundclash.
Mike And actually, you could get away with hoodwinking the Ibiza locals by putting Michael Portillo on a flyer for Café Mambo… he sounds Spanish enough.  “Your residents… 
Pete Gooding
Alex Wolfenden
Michael Portillo”
Wil Brilliant.
Mike Do you think Red Bull Music Academy did the right thing by getting involved with bringing Harvey over?
Wil I think so yeah.  It def fits with their ‘underground music’ ethos. Harvey certainly didn’t play commercial music by any stretch of the imagination.
Mike And I guess they have a history of this kind of thing, from the beginning of their brand… public events, stunts etc. rather than just dry advertising.
Wil I guess I’m keen to know about your thoughts on Harvey being a little younger than me and all that…
Mike  Well that’s a useful way of loading the question, because as we know, Harvey has become cool to people in the UK that were not old enough to have seen him play.
Wil Calling myself an old cunt there.
Mike Being 29 as I am I’d have pretty much missed Harvey the first time around.  By fluke I could have been at Electric Chair in 2002, but I wasn’t!
Wil Where were you?
Mike Probably watching someone like Yousef if I was lucky, or if I was unlucky, getting mildly irritated by the fact that I didn’t like funky house as much as all of my friends did.
Wil But yeah, the online hype machine… how did you come to be there that night?
Mike As someone that’s been following it since about 2000, the older I’ve got, the more I like old-fashioned DJ ‘performers’ rather than genres.  It was Danny Tenaglia that really schooled me in this… I’d say the first time I saw him, it all made a bit more sense to me.
Wil The whole ‘DJ’ thing? – as opposed to using clubs merely as a means to getting shit-faced?
Mike i.e. there was no shame in me getting a bit bored with a DJ that played 2 hours of Subliminal-House.  He showed me that a DJ could be more diverse than that, and mix a lot of different genres, different tempos etc.  And yes, it is definitely true that you’re less likely to need to be hammered to enjoy a long DJ set, if there are a lot of different genres and different cards being played.
Wil Absolutely… I had probably 3 or 4 drinks all night and was happy as Larry!
Mike So since I saw Tenaglia in 02, I’ve always looked out for people that piss about with the rules, and judging by the hype, Harvey fitted that bill.  Also his links with International Feel. I have such admiration for Mark who runs that thing.
Wil Such an incredible label.
Mike Boorman So having read all the hype and reconciled the quality of what he was doing with International Feel, I felt this guy was a big deal who was likely to be worth watching, and his attitude when he played at WHP was exactly what I wished for … he just didn’t quite get it right in the second half of his set, but the tunes were still good.
Wil Yeah I agree… it just felt like a wind down.  Guess you northern lot can’t be trusted though, to behave, when they’ve been hyped up at 2am in the morning.
Mike Yeah!
Wil I’d like to see him after a succession of gigs in the UK when people aren’t going so crazy about it.
Mike Yeah, agreed – a more sane context.
Wil But full credit to everyone involved for bringing him back.  I know it was a difficult task.  Let’s hope he comes back soon…er!