Like most, I first learned about Jared Hart when he performed with his punk rock band The Scandals, supporting fellow New Jersey natives The Gaslight Anthem on tour. This was soon followed with a solo slot supporting TGA’s vocalist Brian Fallon in Europe, in which the punk credentials shine through in Hart’s unique voice, contrasting the folkier styling in common with Fallon and The Gaslight Anthem, along with artists commonly seen on the same bill such as Dave Hause or Chuck Ragan. Tonight, headlining his own show in Brighton’s The Prince Albert (home of the famous Banksy kissing policeman graffiti), Hart brings Rocky Catanese with him from New Jersey, along with UK-based supports filling out the bill.
Opening the show tonight is Harker, vocalist Mark putting on a solo hometown performance of just him and a guitar. His warm performance deserves more than the few dozen in attendance on a Monday evening, with the musical style drawing influence from the early 2000s punk rock of The Ataris and more modern folk-influenced artists like the aforementioned Hause. One to look out for in future, both in solo guise and as performing as a full band.
Check out Chris Andrews’ slew of live shots from the evening.
Following up are Arms & Hearts, who live tonight are Steve Millar solo with just an acoustic guitar; performing as a full band on record. The music is emotional and personal, harnessing raw passion reminiscent of early Frank Turner. Seeing a performance connect with an audience in an inconspicuous venue such as this almost felt like discovering a secret. Check out track “Blue Sky Minds” for an example of how good Arms & Hearts can be, and look out for bigger things soon. One to go see live if you get the chance.
Rocky Catanese’s set kicks off soon after Millar departs the stage, and works its way through an enviable back catalogue. His guitar playing is complex for an artist performing solo on acoustic, and his relatively high voice is flawless and harks back to frontmen of the ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll era à la Ritchie Valens. Midway through the set, Catanese introduces the challenge he’s undertaken – playing a different cover song each night. Tonight’s is “Till I Hear It From You” by Gin Blossoms, number 17 of 18 on tour, and after a couple of false starts gets performed consummately and in a way that you’d expect him to have been playing it day in day out. Catanese is a pleasure to listen to, and even when finishing with a song about someone who’s clearly pissed him off, his music is warm and engaging.
Sample the rad Arms & Hearts tune “Blue Sky Minds” here.
Finally, Jared Hart takes to the stage at about 9:45PM – way past some people’s bedtime on a Monday night – but the room remains as full as it was for his performance. Accompanied throughout by Rocky Catanese, the two are clearly firm friends and well-versed in playing with each other from their time in new endeavour Mercy Union. Opening with “The Guillotine” and “Totem” from 2015 album Past Lives And Pass Lines, Hart’s unique and excellent vocal delivery combined with Catanese taking the guitar lead lines and harmonies really bring the tracks to life, sounding even more convincing than on record.
Touching on some of Mercy Union’s material, Hart also performs a cover of The Menzingers’ “Lookers” – chosen “because they talk about Jersey.” With his last album coming out in 2015, it’s surely time for another, and on the back of performances like tonight Hart’s presence is sure to grow, in whatever guise his next release may be. One to always catch when he comes around on the live circuit, and another couple of artists whose profiles have been raised after tonight.