Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
After recently collaborating on the critically-acclaimed album Get Up!, the American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ben Harper, along with the legendary, electric blues harmonica-player Charlie Musselwhite, take the stage for a one-off, sold out concert at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in West London.
The duo walks on stage to a standing ovation from an audience roaring to hear them play. As the house lights dim and the blue overhead spotlights set the calm tone, they open with the album’s title track with Musselwhite on harmonica and Harper taking lead vocals. His voice is soulful and edgy, creating a cool and mellow sound alongside a strong drum beat from Jimmy Paxson.
Homeless Child has the pair sitting at the front of the stage; Harper starts to play his solo on dulcimer with the enthusiastic crowd eagerly cheering him on, while Musselwhite’s vocals are affecting as he plays the harmonica between verses. Their performance resonates with you throughout and the lengthy instrumental gives you the chance to truly appreciate the abilities of these renowned musicians. In the last few bars of this number the beat slows, but keeps you engaged until Harper’s very last note.
With recognisable tunes like I Ride at Dawn and Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks, the audience is consistently on its feet, slowly shaking heads to the beat or ecstatically head-banging and singing along to the latter. Harper performs this hit in the moment, suddenly instructing Paxson to stop playing and hold the silence for an extra few seconds to build the suspense, before vivaciously going into the first verse. A phenomenal finish to the set, but their fans have no intention of leaving without an encore.
And so they deliver a four-track finale with the very last song All That Matters Now stunning the audience into silence, to take in Harper’s vocals as he sings to them acoustically. His powerful and passionate voice carries throughout the hall and, with Musselwhite’s harmonica styling and bassist Jesse Ingalls on piano, they embody the blues genre in an incredibly moving combination of sounds. It’s truly a shame that the tour stops in London for one night only.
Photos: Andrei Grosu
For further information about Ben Harper and future events visit his website here.
For further information about Charlie Musselwhite and future events visit his website here.
Watch the video for All That Matters Now (The Machine Shop Session) here: