Seated throughout and backed by Cockney Rebel he opened with the captivating Ordinary People, released as a stand-alone single in 2015, and one he doesn’t often incorporate in his live shows as much as he should.
Then it was straight into a couple of real golden oldies Here Comes the Sun and Judy Teen. Harley may have performed them both a million times or more but he put as much heart and soul into their delivery as if it was the first time. The audience, made up of all ages, loved them - and him. It’s quite a surreal experience being in the ‘mosh pit’ of the Picturedrome with a bunch of 50 and 60-somethings punching the air and dancing like they were teenage rockers again. Pure magic.
Without missing a beat he went straight into Psychomodo and Sling It! - both from his 1975 album The Psychomodo. Stuart Elliot who was the original Cockney Rebel drummer has lost none of his energy and the frenetic instrumental with Barry Wickens discordant violin playing and James Lascelles magic fingers on the piano had Harley itching to get up from his chair. “I feel like a caged animal,” he said. The pace slowed with a beautiful rendition of A Friend For Life, then The Coast of Amalfi, and Audience With the Man from the album The Candidate.
And so it went on. Song after song, each one better than the other, with no break for the interval.
Journey’s End (written for his son), Mr Soft, All in a Life’s Work and my all-time favourite Sebastian which still sends shivers down my spine almost 40 years since I first heard it on the live album Face to Face.
During the’ pretend’ encore (the band didn’t leave the stage) outstanding young ukulele player Amelia Coburn - the support act - joined in with Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) and after a hasty conference they then launched into Tumbling Down with the audience singing along at the tops of their voices - reluctant to go home even after a two-hour set.
He may now be a grandad but Harley has not lost any of his showmanship. It’s clear he enjoys every minute of his time on stage and that he appreciates the legions of fans who’ve stuck with him since he first burst onto the music scene in 1972. Long may he continue.