One-Man-Funk-Machine Steals Our Harts

2016, you were less than stellar. You took away the greats and you didn’t give us back much. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

We don’t forgive you for taking Prince from us, but we’ll still thank you for thrusting his protégé, Harts, into the limelight. The prodigious multi-instrumentalist, vouched for by the late purple-clad one himself, is making a splash with his brand of electric psychedelic and funk-rock revival. At 24 years of age, this shining star from Melbourne sits firmly in the category of people who are better than you. Touring his new and highly anticipated album, Smoke Fire Hope Desire, Harts shone under the stars at Urban Orchard on Friday night.

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Harts entered stage right to a cascade of enthusiastic applause. With his black curls, obligatory leather jacket and skinny jeans, he looked every bit the star. He grabbed his paisley-decorated guitar and took up his best sex-god-power-stance to begin the proceedings. It quickly became apparent that the spaciousness of the Urban Orchard would be necessary for all the requisite head-banging and jiving the evening would entail.

Harts performed to a crowd that was 50% millennial hipsters and 50% forty-something men that probably would describe themselves as ‘cool’ dads. It says something about Harts‘ brand of rock, accessible but transcendent. He has a sound reminiscent of some of the fallen greats, while still carving out a style that is entirely his own.

His certified hit singles, ‘Power’ and ‘Peculiar’, were both clear favourites on the night and the crowd were more than happy to oblige with singing the lyrics. With ‘Power’, Harts slapped down some serious groove bass and incited an almost anthem like vibe by encouraging the masses to chant the chorus credo, “all power to us all,” while ‘Peculiar’ was the melodic masterpiece of the set with its introspective lyrics and soulful harmony. Both were outstanding live examples of the blend of legendary funk rock and electric charisma that Harts has become known for.

And the guitar solos? 15. That’s one every five minutes for those of you playing at home. I know what you’re thinking –  “Elise, that sounds like way more than any gig needs!” Well, Harts pulls it off. His evocative guitar prowess and respect for classic showmanship kept the audience captivated for the duration of his 75-minute set. If the solos themselves were not enough, he engaged in some impressive Hendrix style, guitar-solo-behind-the-head action because if there isn’t any stagecraft acrobatics, is it really a rock concert?

Harts then seduced a wild crowd with favourites from his first LP, Daydreamer. Starting with the hit ‘Red & Blue, the song showcased some seriously stunning sultry blues-rock, further demonstrating the diversity of Harts’ prowess; While ‘Lovers in Bloom’ was a sweeter track that revealed Harts‘ gorgeous falsetto pipes with some upbeat pop guitar hooks. The business end of the set also saw a cover of Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’, which got everybody down and dancing. While hardly original, the electric rock cover of this club classic was well received by the crowd.

At the conclusion of his encore performance Harts was found gyrating on the ground shredding his guitar and screaming, because, well, you’re not hard-core unless you live hard-core. After promising a salivating crowd he’d be back soon, he left the stage to more raucous applause.

Under the bright lights of the Urban Orchard, no one could deny we had gained a new shining star in Harts.