h Natural in Dublin - by Linda Southern
Having never seen h live other than his performances with Marillion, I was not too sure what to expect. I had heard the h natural gigs were very good and I know h is a very good performer but I wondered how it would compare to a Marillion gig: h, a stage, a keyboard and a lap top computer. All in all you could sum up this gig by saying the following: yes it was very different form a Marillion gig, as you would expect, but brilliant all the same. I have never seen songs performed with such emotion and passion for the music as h showed. He was amazing.
He started the gig by walking on the stage wearing a big pair of sunglasses, which he claims he stole from Bono. This got us all laughing. The singing started with Carole King’s Way Over Yonder and was followed by h¹s own song Deep Water and the most amazing performance of House from Marillion.com I think I have ever heard.
After House came a story from h about the song This Strange Engine and some back ground to it. It was very interesting to hear, as a lot of it was about h¹s family background and his dad leaving the navy to work in a mine to be closer to his family. More family information was given out when h spoke about how he was born in a convent literally at the hands of a holy woman (a nun).
We were also told a story about when he was a young guy playing on a cruise ship and was attacked by a bass player with an attitude (jokes were made about it being Pete but it wasn¹t!). I was able to ask him if this was why he wore bandages on his fingers when he first started playing gigs with Marillion? I got an affirmative answer.
When he introduced Marbles One he told us that it was like the music of Rufus Wainright and also very Chinese sounding. Apparently it was supposed to have been like an Irish drinking song a la Erin Marbles. Once he told us that, we convinced him to give us a little blast of that song and we all sang along. Sadly the heckling continued while h was trying to speak and he decided to cut down the banter. This is a pity as he spoke really well. Also what didn¹t help was that the gig was so quiet you could clearly hear noise from Whelan¹s main bar. (I was sitting just opposite the entrance to it) I hope sometime, somewhere the Belfast diary entry will be made public as I was at that gig and would be interested to see whether h¹s opinion matches my own.
Of course we had a good mix of Marillion material. Easter was of course played as a tribute to the location of the gig. Also three of my favourite songs were played. Fantastic Place, This Is The 21st Century and Estonia. As I previously said h's performance was amazing.
As for the non-Marillion songs there was such a mixture of artists. From Kate Bush’s Cloudbusting to David Bowie’s Life on Mars to Glenn Campbell’s Witichita Lineman (which pleased Scott an American guy who came to Dublin especially for the gig!). The Waterboys’ songs Whole of the Moon and Spirit were particularly pleasing to the audience who gave full reign to their voices and joined in.
As well as hearing great music h also caught a blast of the drunken Irish sense of humour when he started singing the opera section of Bohemian Rhapsody to the Paul McCartney piano solo section of the Beatles A Day in the Life. We also had him singing acapella at the end of the gig when our clapping led him to sing Stevie Wonder’s Living in the City. It was really enjoyable to hear H funking out. At the risk of stating the obvious: that man has a brilliant voice with or without instrumentation behind it but then again people reading this will know that already. It was amazing to hear the different types of material h could get his voice around well. Do not think for one minute all this guy can sing is rock music.
As usual after the gig h met as many fans as he could, standing outside the venue entrance. Thank God it was a warmish night. A group of us also met him in the pub opposite the venue afterwards. He spoke to us for a good while even though he must have been shattered after the gig.
A big thank you to h for his performance. And also to Paul the promoter here in Dublin for convincing Lucy to get h over here! I look forward to seeing h natural in Dublin sometime again!
First posted on the Web UK website in 2006.