Gig Review by Adrienne Frances with Photography by Lee Allen

Har Mar Superstar

Racing were the first support on stage – a local duo (though there were three on stag for tonight’s gig) who describe themselves as “lo-fi funk/soul”. Lead singer James looked dapper in his suit, as did Alex with his twirly moustache.. but beyond that, I have very little to say about them. There was lots of posturing, and they were tight as an act, but my concentration wandered. Their first track reminded me of Sam Sparro, or even Eagle Eye Cherry.. but the remaining tracks veered into the realms of Flight of the Conchords – but without ANY humour! They seemed to take themselves terribly seriously, and yet their lyrics didn’t engage me and their melodies didn’t excite.

Racing
Racing
Racing

Next up: Lizzo. MASSIVE CHANGE IN ATMOSPHERE. Lizzo is a young artist from Minneapolis, and she prowled onto the small stage wearing a t-shirt that said ‘FUCK NICE’ with a massive beguiling grin on her face and trucker cap saying ‘GRRRL’ pulled down – referencing an earlier project called GRRRL PRTY. The strange juxtaposition of US street culture on a tiny stage in the wannabe hipsterville of Kings Heath was not lost on me, nor was it lost on the rest of the crowd who were held in rapt attention by her charismatic stage presence, nodding and whooping – albeit politely.

Lizzo
Lizzo
Lizzo
Lizzo

Whilst Lizzo’s rap vocals feel very different to Har Mar stylistically, there is a provocative similarity to her lyrics and attitude that make her the perfect opening act. She was chatty and alive throughout her set, and bathed the audience in a wave of energy during her single ‘Batches and Cookies’ where she was joined in a skipping dance by Sophia Eris (another member of GRRRL PRTY) and left the crowd grinning and cheering. In contrast to Racing, Lizzo offered original and often amusing lyrics with a great attitude although my highlight was ‘Faded’, which included the slightly darker lyrics: “Sucky people marry suckers and they suck – then they have sucky kids, they grow up – then what? – they attend the sucky universities”. Comparisons to Missy Elliot may well be easy and/or lazy, but they’re not far off the mark. And yes, I bought a copy of the album then and there. Something about Lizzo makes you feel you’re in the presence of someone special – someone who won’t be playing tiny pub venues for long.

Har Mar Superstar
Har Mar Superstar

Just a short break later and Har Mar Superstar took to the stage – with Lizzo as one of his backing singers. Wearing a white tassled leather jacket with a black hoody underneath (the Hare and Hounds is a bit chilly in the winter!) he gyrated around the stage showing off his more mature well rounded funk sound. Great rapport between Sean and Lizzo during DUI and then it was off with the leather jacket, to reveal a sequinned poncho over a geometric print tee. I love his playfulness with fashion, and seemingly so do a lot of women in the crowd who were cooing over him.

Har Mar Superstar
Har Mar Superstar
Har Mar Superstar

I really enjoyed new track ‘Lady, You Shot Me’ – it felt a lot bigger, and more bluesy than previous material.. and single ‘Prisoner’ was really well-received. His music is intelligent, provocative, but also, I suspect, slightly tongue in cheek – making a Har Mar show a lot of fun. There were a few people in the crowd who took it all very seriously and were grinding away, poe-faced, and didn’t even bat an eyelid at lyrics like ‘Deeper, deeper, I can feel your beeper’ in Power Lunch – but again, what else should I expect at the Hare & Hounds? The majority of the crowd whooped and hollered at the stage, and there was a murmur of amusement in a lot of places.

Har Mar Superstar
Har Mar Superstar

By the time he played ‘Everywhere I’m Local’, the tee was off, and Sean was left wearing a white vest. This then led onto him proclaiming “I like to ask your permission, then do what I was going to do anyway.. [whispers into the mic] cause that’s my styyyyyyyyle” which saw him jump down into the crowd for a cover of Gilbert O’Sullivans ‘Alone Again’: “For if he really does exist – why did he desert me”. Back to the stage, and off with the vest – though as predicted, a random bloke screams for him to take his trousers off, and Sean just mutters ‘Yup. Always the dudes.’

Har Mar SuperstarHar Mar Superstar
Har Mar SuperstarHar Mar Superstar

End of the main set saw Sean treat us to a Har Mar headstand, whilst shouting upside down into the mic “Yeah Birmingham – what the fuck is going on? I’m fucking amazing!”. And I agree. A brilliant entertainer. Saving ‘Tallboy’ for the encore, and the crowd went mental dancing about. Sean then informed the crowd: “Let me get this shitty sweat off me and I’ll come say hi. Unless it’s scary.” And say hello he did, taking time to hang out by the merch stand, pose for a million pics (much to the delight of many of the women there!) and sign anything people asked him to. He’s a lovely man, and he’s funny and charming and INTERESTING. So he get’s my seal of approval.

Har Mar Superstar
Har Mar Superstar

Still hungry for more? Take a look at the full set of photos from the gig on Flickr and then read Gig Junkie’s interview with Har Mar.

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