Charlie Harper at Hewitts, Emsworth, review: ‘A triumph of an evening’

Charlie Harper was at Hewitts in Emsworth.  Picture: Paul Windsor
Charlie Harper was at Hewitts in Emsworth. Picture: Paul Windsor

Following in the footsteps of Wreckless Eric , TV Smith and Rat Scabies, Charlie Harper, lead singer of the UK Subs was the latest punk rock legend to perform an intimate sold out show, this time in Hewitts in Emsworth.

After 23 guitarists,19 bassists and 25 drummers, the 74-year-old elder statesman of the UK punk scene was in fine form. He was exchanging banter with the crowd throughout the evening, admitting this was the first acoustic and Q&A show he had done and was still feeling a bit nervous.

Interestingly from the opening classic Stranglehold, the songs take on a Dylan-esque feel, with Charlie admitting all the early songs were written on an acoustic guitar – it was a pleasure to hear them in their original form.

More tracks from the classic debut album Another Kind of Blues quickly followed. Several songs also reference Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams which showed a different side to the mans character.

Needless to say, the singers age began to catch up with him when he was forced to bring out a magnifying glass to identify the correct harmonica to play. But other than that, he was in good health belying his age and still performing a hundred shows a year. 

A Q&A session followed the set with the audience given an opportunity to quiz the man himself. Tales of Iggy Pop, Joe Strummer and The Ruts followed tales of punk bands causing mayhem on Top of The Pops and the honour of being banned twice. All in all a triumph of an evening with Charlie and fans alike marvelling in the wonderful intimate atmosphere.

PAUL WINDSOR