GIG REVIEW: HARTS (Oxford Arts Factory, Sept 2016)
BAND: Harts VENUE: Oxford Arts Factory DATE: 17th September, 2016 He’s been labelled a "one man music making machine" and he’s jammed with Prince, but for someone born in the early ‘90s, Melbourne boy Harts (aka Darren Hart) sure knows how to draw a diverse crowd. The punters slowly filling the Oxford Arts Factory are an eclectic mix of the young and not-quite-so-young. First up onstage is support from Sydney indie rockers ‘Mount Zamia’. With some pretty smooth and catchy swirling psych tones, the boys set the scene for the main event – and before you know it, it’s all black curls and red velvet as Harts swaggers onstage wielding his trademark painted Squier Strat. Harts builds up slowly with a sexy intro to 'Smoke' (from latest album 'Smoke Fire Hope Desire') before gradually unleashing the fuzz and piercing shred that he has quickly become famous for. With lengthy solos and boisterous showmanship, Harts is dripping with confidence – but when you consider that he personally wrote, performed, recorded and produced the entire album "Smoke Fire Hope Desire" in his bedroom, the confidence is more than justified. And the love flowing from the crowd seems to boost this prodigy to even greater heights. Dipping into old and newer tracks, including radio-friendly pearlers 'Peculiar' and 'Love is in Bloom', Harts is competently backed by a live band as he leaps from driving funk to stripped-down soul – all while seamlessly carving up hooks and laying his silky voice all over the place. The culmination of the night is a blistering solo that transforms into a scintillating rendition of Ginuwine’s 'Pony' (if you are unfamiliar, I refer you to Channing Tatum stripping in Magic Mike). It’s immaculately feisty and showcases the Melbournite’s sheer talent. While some may claim he is heavily influenced by his icons, Harts doesn’t appear fazed by comparisons and wears his inspiration firmly on his sleeve(s) – he shreds like a demon, he sings like a saint, and his insane level of flair and versatility at this early stage points to some pretty damn exciting things to come.
BY TIANA SPETER