Harper plays from the heart in Leede Arena concert
Alternating between electric intensity and gentle acoustic splendor, singer and songwriter Ben Harper transmitted a sense of passion and power during his performance last night at Leede Arena.
Harper, along with his band, The Innocent Criminals, delighted the capacity crowd with an eclectic blend of reggae, country and hard-nosed rock. But through whatever musical genre Harper chose to explore, he offered his heart and soul to the crowd, providing a genuine sincerity and candor through his lyrics.
Reaching back to his first album, 1993's "Welcome to the Cruel World," Harper began the evening with "How Many Miles Must We March," a number that can be easily linked to the fabled protest songs of the 60s.
"There must come a day when a box is not somebody's home," Harper proclaimed.
With "Burn to Shine," Harper exhibited a similar intensity, singing "if you don't like fire then don't come around," as the flowing red curtain behind him gave the sense of a wild inferno.
But on occasion, Harper's fervor was excessively intense. The thundering speed of "Ground on Down" seemed more for show than for pleasure, allowing Harper to prove his extensive guitar repertoire -- at the same time overwhelming the Criminals.
Cohesiveness, however, was the driving element behind "Steal My Kisses," Harper's most notable single to date.
The staid pop cloyingness of the song was given a refreshing boost with Juan Nelson's thumping bass. The tandem of drummer Dean Butterworth and percussionist David Leach's rhythmic beat also enhanced the song's appeal.