Ren Harvieu cont

Ren Harvieu


Following an accident resulting in a broken back in 2011 that hindered the full-pelt launch of her career, it seems Ren Harvieu is firmly back on the musical radar and gigging circuit.

It’s easy to forget, with her low-key presence and the absence of a second album in recent years, that her debut record Through the Night charted at number five and made an impressive impact on the mainstream music scene.

With five musicians supporting her set tonight, the modest Deaf Institute stage was always going to be short on space. However, it’s not this that makes the room seem nutshell-small this evening, rather Ms Harvieu herself. In a brave sartorial departure from her previous vintage style she sports a mullet and fringed shirt that really shouldn’t work but looks strangely natural. Regardless of her appearance however, she has an emphatic presence as a performer that captivates the room and makes it difficult to tear your attention from her direction. So far, so good.

Although the crowd is dotted with established supporters in the form of friends and family in this venue close to her native Salford, there is no doubt a raft of curious newcomers to her music are also present. Little wonder – her dusky and seductive, often yearning but always confident tracks are versatile and relatable and her on-stage banter, endearing. “I accidentally bought denture cream instead of toothpaste before my last gig.” she admits. “My teeth stuck together – not sure how that was going to work out.”

With her second album in the pipeline, Harvieu’s set consists largely of well-received material from ‘Through the Night’ such as the popular ‘Open up Your Arms’ and ‘Forever in Blue’. Diverse new material also gets a look-in, taking at times an operatic avenue and at others tinged with country tendencies. Although that may be the fringed shirt talking, along with the influence of infectiously upbeat support act Goat Roper Rodeo Band.

Two covers creep into the set with Blondie’s ‘Rapture’ ending the night, but Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ is the highlight. A song that begs to be covered, Harvieu’s vocal style and subtle accompaniment from her injured keyboardist does the tortured classic real justice.

This is an interesting and a seminal time for Ren Harvieu. Amid the cover versions and past writing collaborations with the likes of the Stands’ Howie Payne, the Zutons’ Dave McCabe and Ed Harcourt, it could be argued that her own style has been sometimes obscured and needs the opportunity to develop amid the challenges of recent years.

The release of her second album should reveal more about her as a singer-songwriter and shine some overdue light on her artistic identity and capabilities. Going on tonight’s performance there’s no doubt that she has the ability net a diverse following – the future will be a promising place for Ren Harvieu.

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