Har Mar Superstar,
The Ruby Lounge, Manchester,
Say what you want about Har Mar Superstar, but A) boy can sing, B) boy sure can dance and C) boy knows how to put on a damned good live show.
Manchester’s Ruby Lounge is thrumming with over-excitement – the audience is thrillingly eclectic and probably due to the fact that HMS has been gone for nearly five years between studio albums, appears to be made up of the most loyal and obsessive fans the North West has to offer.
HMS enters dressed in two layers of hooded dashiki with gold, sequined elbow length gloves, which will all be stripped off to nothing throughout the set. The crowd tip-toe, crane necks and stand on anything (or anyone) they can find in order to get a better look at the hipster-disco Danny Devito figure busting moves up on stage to opening song Game Night.
This man doesn’t waste any time either, by the time second song D.U.I is over – a jovial, drunken party-shanty of a song – he’s already managed to pull some random, worse-for-wear girl in the audience (whilst someone I can only assume was her boyfriend looks on mortified), and has waded his way through the audience and straight to the bar, mic in hand.
‘I need a drink. Bar!! Give me a shot of JD, please’ he charmingly purrs at the frankly shocked barman, who does as he’s told and pours the drink out for him. HMS doesn’t miss a beat however and continues to forcefully cajole the audience with his smut-heavy lyricisms and provocative dance moves. He stands on the top of a couch and downs his drink surrounded by a raucous, whooping audience.
What is it about watching a tubby, monk-mullet of a man singing suggestive R’N’B songs on a couch whilst downing bourbon that brings the animal out in people? I don’t know, but it sure as fuck works.
HMS knows his audience well – he knows how to get even the middle-aged-men drinking Guinness in the corner to the centre of the audience and busting moves that were made illegal way back in 1973 – by the middle of the set the crowd’s a gigantic, grinding smutfest. It’s like a scene from Black Snake Moan.
To say the atmosphere is hot’n’heavy is an understatement. Repeated jokes about how great a girls ‘titties’ are in the audience as well as half-joking suggestions that himself and his incredibly hot bandmates (dressed head to toe in white t-shirt and white jeans, like party-metal dreamboat Andrew WK, from years ago…) are all single and available for blow jobs, are incredibly cringe inducing and seem to create a dangerous ‘Ready Fellas? Pick any girl you want!’ atmosphere, which is unnerving to say the least.
That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining, however. Body Request’s body-pop action, for example is a barely believable treat which see’s HMS singing upside down, totally contorted with his little legs in the air like a pre-festive season tableau about getting stuck up the chimney (ooooh! Cheeky!), whilst his bassist performs a wonderfully frat-party centric trick of balancing his bass on his chin mid-song. For those of us who could spend a good half an hour tanked up laughing at a cat with its head stuck inside a bucket, these tricks are truly amazing feats to witness. Amazing!
There’s a constant banter with the audience which is refreshing and incredibly endearing – he poses for photos throughout the set with eager, HMS hungry fans who tweak his nipples, stroke his balding head and, once again, get fresh and french with him.
Becoming apparent throughout the set is the idea that HMS’s music is merely a backing soundtrack for the spectacle of his onstage persona. The performance is a bit of a confused hybrid between a novelty act like Flight Of The Conchords and actual, genuine talent. Not only is HMS an incredible vocalist, but he’s also an amazing songwriter – something that seems totally undermined by his onstage striptease and the constant onslaught of sexually confused teenage boys screaming ‘Get yer cock out, Har Mar!’. Sometimes he has a look on his face like Alabama Worley in True Romance snarling at her husband to be – ‘I’m not a hooker, I’m a call girl – and there is a difference you know!’.
Ah well, when HMS does finally strip down to a fantastically trashy pair of tight-tiger print y-fronts, you know the show is nearly over. A pared down and frankly lavish rendition of The Libertines’ Don’t Look Back Into The Sun is a definite highlight as is the performance of current single Tall Boy.
A fitting finale comes in the shape of an a-cappella, solo rendition of the Boyz-II-Men shmaltzy classic It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday, in which HMS comically attempts to sing every harmony and nearly chokes on the sentiment heavy lyricism, ‘God this really is sickly, isn’t it?’ he retches. HMS pals, The Whip, discuss after-party plans with him onstage, and somehow everyone winds up being invited down to The Northern to ‘get trashed’. An invitation Purple Revolver and a great many other people with no respect for the early-to-bed tradition of Monday night, suitably accept.
By far the greatest balding, semi-burlesque white-boy R’N’B singer in the World e-v-e-r.
Buy Har Mar Superstars’ latest album Dark Touches, here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002LTY1N0
Official Website: http://harmarsuperstar.com/