Music Review: Ben Harper – Solo Sensitivity, Or The Cat In The Hat’s All That


Bruce Dennill

Writer. Reader. Singer. Songwriter. Believer. Likes to learn.

All content by Bruce Dennill first published on pARTicipate, republished with permission.
Bruce Dennill



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Ben Harper / Sun Arena Time Square, Pretoria


Ben Harper is an artist who is fiercely proud of his independent, alternative status, which makes witnessing his performances intriguing, as whatever he has in mind for a particular show or tour will be, more or less by default, more interesting than the straightforward formulae of a middle-of-the-road pop singer.

Which makes his decision to perform solo on his South African dates – and to play a set of generally quiet, thoughtful pieces – especially fascinating. Striding on following support sets from Auriol Hays and the sublime Soweto Gospel Choir (passion, stamina and twinkle-eyed audience engagement to go with precision and wonderful natural collective chops), Harper sits in the centre of a semi-circle of guitars, with an upright piano off to one side. He has a couple of lap steels, a couple of six-string acoustic guitars, a 12-string acoustic and an archtop that he also plays as a lap steel –…

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