Ed Harcourt

Ed Harcourt


The world certainly seems to be on fire, as Ed Harcourt warns a lurking crowd. He and his band – with silent John J Presley guest starring, are warmly welcomed. There’s a misty atmosphere surrounding this track, ‘The World Is On Fire’, from his brand new album Furnaces, produced by Flood and out on 19th August. Smartly dressed, Harcourt shows a gorgeous, perfectly warmed up voice from the very beginning.

The apocalyptic zen sound quickly turns into a magnetic spiral encouraged by piercing guitars. No more fog, the end is nigh so let’s get straight to point, right? He leaves the keys and takes the guitar instead for a while. He performs undeniable gems such as ‘Immoral’ and ‘Loup Garou’ with a howling black look that blows you away.

He sounds much rockier than expected. In fact, I was worrying about all the couples around me. I was expecting something much more cheesier, to be honest… Thank God I was completely wrong! Ed Harcourt’s fine music is also for the nihilists and the heavy hearts, hallelujah!

As the gig goes on, he seems to be running from a storm – the one that John J Presley has invoked previously*, just to plunge into a hurricane. Now on keys now on guitar, lyrics suit the fiercely driving melodies in a disturbing harmony. I just love that psychobilly bridge on ‘Occupational Hazard’, eerie and sweet at the same time.

‘You Give Me More Than Love’ starts with some indie-rather-experimental noises – he’s said that he’s been keen on synths lately. “You could be my saviour…”. Heart breaking cries at small hours.

A little break to ask the audience how evreyone is doing today, and a sharp fan mentions the now omnipresent ‘Brexit’ topic. Harcourt gulps before he answers: “Well, I’m glad that we are all here UNITED…”. Perhaps not to take the risk of going deeper on the issue, he swiftly proceeds to introduce the band. Good move, gentleman. Anyway, that was a spontaneously apt introduction to his new album’s title track, ‘Furnaces’. Don’t ask me why, but the first notes of this song mentally take me to a port. He ends with an insane pounding on keys. On the contrary, ‘The Music Box’ invites us to sit back and be indulged by the finest, reassuring pop.

There is a strategic break before we embrace the chaos with the new ‘Dionysus’. Action-packed, warlike drumming, painfully honest lyrics. ‘Watching The Sun Come Up’ gives me the proof of why the term chamber pop is linked to Ed Harcourt when you google him. ‘Last Of Your Kind’ is a deceitful classic pop ballad with a sudden turnaround that catches the crowd. We are in the eye of storm already. Finally, ‘Antartica’ freezes our souls with a Laneganesque touch. The outro is just mental.

At the encore he asks the audience for any suggestions. A “wisecrack” man shouts: “Ghostbuster!” The smooth key player partly obeys. It’s time for long awaited soulful ballads. Soon afterwards he takes a vintage mic and walks among the crowd, spreading some love. It takes effect, as we witness a funny proposal. Harcourt invites a man to go up the stage and surprise his girlfriend. “At some point… In the future… Will you marry me?” Hilarious! By the way, the answer is, after a few seconds of meaningful silence, yes – well, more or less.

There’s been 15 years since Ed Harcourt released the highly acclaimed Here Be Monsters album. He has not wasted the time since then and it seems pretty likely that Furnaces is going to cause a stir. Actually, some people have already started to refer to the new album as the soundtrack of these strange times. Agree. There’s fury and kind violence on his new songs, as a catalyst for the current mood of anger and frustration. Still, there’s harmony and a remarkable symphonic pop aura.

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(*) Encore’s corner: John J Presley

Shoegazer John J Presley duly supports Ed Harcourt’s show with a blend of dirty blues alt noir. You can’t escape from his black treacled, rough voice. “Rain is coming”, he deeply whispers.

Enigmatic music suitable for insomnia nights and tormented days. He plays the guitar with determination and sings his dark poetry with guts and intention.

“You already know me,” grins with a rather shamanic voice.

Stormy desert of the soul… It’s so obscure that enlightens you.

Amaia Santana

Good karma brought me here to Manchester, my second home, where you can stay healthy (despite the weather) and young forever, as you can breathe live music in every corner of the city. I do believe in the healing power of music (rock is my life vest) and I'd be so glad to share my passion with you rockers of the world!