2010/11/18

2010-11-18 - Fistful Of Mercy - Somerville Theatre, Somerville


On Stage :

Fistful Of Mercy : 
Joseph Arthur (vocals & guitar)
Ben Harper (vocals & guitar)
Dhani Harrison (vocals & guitar)
Jessy Greene (violin)

Alain Johannes was the opening act, and plays banjo on "Pale Blue Eyes" 


Setlist : 

i don't want to waste your time
in vain or true
as i call you down
buckets of rain (bob dylan cover)
30 bones
fistful of mercy
please me like you want to (ben harper cover)
restore me
in the sun
another john doe (thenewno2 cover)
things go 'round
father's son
to bring you my love (pj harvey cover)
pale blue eyes (the velvet underground cover)
scandalous
with whom you belong 


Recording :

Sadly, there's no audio recording of this event. 
If I am wrong, thank you to inform me by email.


Poster :



Review :

Fistful of Mercy packs punch (by Sarah Rodman)

On its recent debut album, Fistful of Mercy — the new collective featuring Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur, and Dhani Harrison — puts a pleasantly off-kilter twist on the Crosby, Stills, and Nash model, embellishing their harmony-saturated folk-rock tunes with ambient and psychedelic fillips. While enjoyable, the record feels a bit too ethereal in places.

In concert Thursday night at the Somerville Theatre, the trio — with a big boost from gracefully simpatico violinist and Sheffield native Jessy Greene — brought the songs of “As I Call You Down’’ to terra firma, fleshing them out and imbuing them with a warm soul over the course of an increasingly riveting, nearly two-hour show.

Voices and guitars interlocking Arthur, Harper, and Harrison ran through songs both rollicking — including blues stomper “Father’s Song’’ — and tender — “Restore Me,’’ often with Arthur not only singing and playing but keeping time on bass drum and tambourine with his feet. Each also performed one song from their respective catalogs.

The trio leavened the sometimes solemn mood of the music with levity, displaying a comic rapport as effortless as their harmony blend. Harrison, son of late Beatle George, joked about the heavy metal bent of the band’s name before launching into its decidedly nonmetal namesake song. Harper and Arthur poked fun at one another and enjoyed back and forth exchanges with the sold-out crowd.

But the music was the main attraction, and the trio played with obvious enjoyment.

Opening act, virtuosic guitarist Alain Johannes, returned to the stage for the stunning encore. The group moved from fierce (a noir-ish blues take on PJ Harvey’s “To Bring You My Love’’), to stark (a shiver-inducing reading of the Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes’’), to funky (their own disco-roots mash-up “Scandalous’’).

The night was capped with a truly unplugged moment. Lining the front of the stage, guitars in hand, they sang, sans amplification, their optimistic ode to friendship “With Whom You Belong,’’ successfully coaxing the crowd to sing its refrain “I hope you find friends with whom you belong.’’ Clearly, the gentlemen in Fistful of Mercy have done just that.






Photos by Frank Donnelly :












2010/11/11

2010-11-11 - Fistful Of Mercy - Great American Music Hall, San Francisco



On Stage :

Fistful Of Mercy : 
Joseph Arthur (vocals & guitar)
Ben Harper (vocals & guitar)
Dhani Harrison (vocals & guitar)
Jessy Greene (violin)


Setlist : 

i don't want to waste your time
in vain or true
as i call you down
buckets of rain (bob dylan cover)
30 bones
fistful of mercy
please me like you want to (ben harper cover)
restore me
in the sun
another john doe (thenewno2 cover)
things go 'round
father's son
to bring you my love (pj harvey cover)
pale blue eyes (the velvet underground cover)
scandalous
with whom you belong


Recording :

Recorded by Daspyknows 
Recorded main floor halfway between stage and soundboard just right of center
Schoeps MK4 w/ NBox Tascam DR-2D 24 Bit 48K

The 2 last songs weren't recorded.


Reviews :

1) by Daspyknows, the taper of the recording :

"Thanks to Drew for the ticket.  Was looking forward to this and everything seemed easy.
No such luck.  Was checking gear and turns out I bought 4 dead 9 Volts at Walgreens.  
Meant trying to find batteries at the last minute.  I was prepared for a dance floor but 
it was tables and chairs.  I ended up to the right of a couple who just came to talk and
drnk.  During the opening act I asked them to be quiet twice.  No luck.  Between sets I 
asked again.  At one point the guy said maybe we should duct tape his girlfriend to keep
her quiet (he was lounder).  I reached into my backpack and pulled out a roll.  Shut them
up for a bit. 

Fistful of Mercy came out.  They were great.  I started the recorder when I expected them 
to come out.  Security was always close by so I couldnt mess with the gear.  Unfortunately I 
miscalculated the memory on the card and lost the last few songs.  I knew I was close but 
couldn't check due to security.  Kicking myself because the performance of Pale Blue Eyes 
was amazing.  Hopefully other sources will appear from the tour.  These guys are good, having
fun playing together and really seemed to enjoy each other.  

Do not sell this, support these guys by going to see them or bying their new release."


2) by Andy Young, for COS :

Fistful of Mercy makes friends in San Francisco

When a band opens up with a song called “I Don’t Want to Waste Your Time”, you normally become a little cautious. When that band has Ben fucking Harper in it, there’s nothing to worry about.

That is, at least, what everyone at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall discovered Thursday night. Harper’s newest project Fistful of Mercy, an acoustic rock trio with singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur and Dhani Harrison (George’s son), has no business being as good as it was after less than a year in existence.

After the crowd frustratingly chattered over a melancholy opening set by Them Crooked Vultures/Queens of the Stone Age collaborator Alain Johannes, FoM came out to a huge ovation, and the love remained throughout the evening.

With help from As I Call You Down violinist Jessy Greene, the trio strummed through all nine tracks on its October debut album, and then some. And “then some,” of course, means lots of bonus material. FoM kept the show fresh with plenty of crowd-pleasers, including covers of Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain”, PJ Harvey’s “To Bring You My Love”, and The Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes”. The band also threw in a new piece called “Scandalous” (sample lyric: “Scandalous / You’re so motherfuckin’ scandalous”).

The high point, for better or for worse, consisted of FoM playing a string of non-FoM songs. Halfway through the main set, upon finishing “Fistful of Mercy”, Arthur blurted out a request for a Harper song. Harper, a Southern California native, stalled by addressing the crowd: “How about some hostility for the San Francisco Giants?” After some extended screaming and a “Let’s go, Giants” chant, Harper, with his friends’ help, transitioned into his “Please Me Like You Want To”. His buddies traded the spotlight from here, with Arthur busting out his early single “In the Sun” and Harrison taking a seat at a grand piano for thenewno2 number “Another John Doe”.

While the performance was marked by plenty of impressive musical improvisation — several shining moments from Greene, a duel between Harrison and Arthur, and as expected, Harper’s lap slide guitar — the verbal improv did its part in making this a memorable show. All three members made cracks about the amount of weed in the air; someone apparently even threw a joint at Arthur. The band played a game of rock, paper, scissors, and joked about Harrison’s backstage skateboarding. Best of all, they were really proud of their Conan appearance — “Y’all see us on Conan last night?” quipped Arthur at one point, out of the blue. And introducing “Father’s Son”, Harrison said, “We did this song with Tom Morello last night and it sounded like ‘Killing in the Name of’. That wasn’t really our intention."

Harrison, playing in San Francisco for the first time, showed some nerves; his eyes never fixated on the audience, and he had to restart “Another John Doe”. Still, he came through and was, needless to say, a crowd favorite.

None of what FoM did was more or less than what you’d expect. No theremin experiments, no heavy metal. The only surprise was how well these three synchronized all night. There’s no doubt these three are good friends and enjoy being on stage with each other. Fistful of Mercy is essentially just three dudes who happened to get together and jam, and now they have a solid album and a hell of a live show to boot. There’s just something so right about this."








2010/11/10

2010-11-10 - Conan O'Brien Show, NBC TV, Los Angeles


On Stage :

Fistful Of Mercy :
Joseph Arthur (vocals & guitar)
Ben Harper (vocals & guitar)
Dhani Harrison (vocals & guitar)
Jessy Greene (violin)



with Tom Morello on guitar.


Setlist :

Father's Son


Recording :



INTERVIEW : 2010-11-10 Fistful of Mercy skates onto the music scene (by Denise Quan)


Fistful of Mercy is made up of musicians Dhani Harrison, Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur
The trio wrote and recorded nine songs over three days
Harrison, who is the son of Beatle George Harrison, put the album out on his label

To hear a longer cut of the interview, you can subscribe to "Soundcheck Uncut" on iTunes or on www.cnn.com/podcasts (or click HERE)

Dhani Harrison cruises past the conference table on his skateboard and pops a trick in the corner of Hot Records -- the label founded by his father, the late Beatle George Harrison. A couple of minutes later, Joseph Arthur skates down the hall. Then Ben Harper walks in, a black-and-white board tucked under his arm.

So much for networking on a golf course.

The new trio Fistful of Mercy had its genesis at a Southern California skate park. Harrison, who fronts the indie band thenewno2, bumped into Harper -- then in the midst of working with his rock project, Relentless 7.

"When you're skateboarding, you don't really have time to socialize. It's more like trying not to hurt yourself," says Harrison. "We met again at Lollapalooza, and it was like, 'Oh hi, skateboard guy.' And we talked about doing some songs."

In the meantime, Harper had made plans to enter the studio with Arthur, his longtime friend. "It was all done via text messages really," recalls Arthur. "He asked me if I knew Dhani Harrison, and I said, 'No, is he in our band?' "

The three musicians ended up writing and recording nine songs over the course of three highly productive days at the Carriage House in Los Angeles. Most of the songs are acoustic and feature three-part harmonies.

"I've heard it called a folk record, and I've heard it called a pop record. I've heard it called a soul record," says Harper. "It really is a chameleon of a record."

Its lyrics also have a chameleon-like quality. The album tells the story of someone trying to figure out where he stands in a relationship. Given the fact that Harper recently filed for divorce from actress Laura Dern, his wife of five years, one might think it is a record full of breakup songs -- especially since the CD opens with the line, "Just 'cause you say so don't make it true. Just 'cause it's over don't mean we're through."

"I can see them interpreted as that," Harper says. "It's a record that will reflect where you're at, more than us being able to say what it's like."

Harrison, however, says the lyrics tell the journey of Fistful of Mercy. "I see the record as more people getting to know each other and testing each other's boundaries," he says.

"The first song we wrote together was 'I Don't Want to Waste Your Time,' because we all are a little nervous about wasting each other's time," Arthur says. "The album's kind of like a conversation -- a three-way conversation -- and sort of a document of friends becoming brothers."

CNN spoke with the three members of Fistful of Mercy as they rehearsed for their first tour, which kicks off Tuesday in Seattle.

CNN: You came in working off a phrase, "You love like I love."

Harrison: When I saw Ben, we kind of recognized each other as people that were going to be friends in life. And as I was leaving, I was like, "I like you because you're cool. You love like I love." And he just laughed and said, "That's the first line of the song we're going to write." Sounds kind of corny, but it actually was true.

CNN: Did you guys write individually, or did you write in the same room all together, throwing phrases and words out?

Harrison: Both. It was like, "How about this?" "No!" "OK, next line." "Yeah!" Boom, boom. It just kind of naturally happened.

Harper: We had something called the Lyric Police. It worked.

Arthur: It's like we tricked each other's egos in a way, because it's like a cartoony way of being able to edit each other's stuff without becoming offended in any way. Plus we had three days, so we kind of got this Brill Building vibe of like, "We just have to get this record done." So you didn't get engaged in a possessive way. It was more like we were one working towards an objective. They say they haven't invented time travel yet, but I think they have. It's called a recording studio. You can fit a month into three days.

Harper: The time constraint works as a discipline to stand up and be the player that hopefully you are, the singer that you are, the writer that you are.

CNN: If I were going to think about an album the three of you might do together, I don't think this is the sound I would have come up with, necessarily.

Harper: Joe brought a lot of equipment -- samplers, digital gear effects. Dhani brought ukuleles, and I kind of went in-between. I brought some acoustic and some electric. And it could have gone in any number of directions, but it pretty quickly defined itself.

Harrison: In my band, I'm kind of used to being the lead guitar player and the lead singer. As soon as I sat down with these guys -- I mean, I don't know if you've heard Joe play, but he is one of the most amazing guitar players that I've heard. And Ben is -- enough said, you know. And so I just kind of gave up on that idea. So I became the keyboard player, which is the first time I've ever played keyboards in a band.

Harper: Well, everything you touch, you play. I think I've seen you sit down with a banjo and write a song in five minutes.

Harrison: It was really bad, though.

Harper: Actually, it was a great song, I'm afraid, and I was a little bit jealous.

CNN: Dhani, you put this album out on your record label, Hot Records.

Harrison: It just happened that Ben was coming out of his deal, Joe puts his records out [on his own label], and we've never put anything out other than newno2 records, but we had the system in place. I said to the guys, why don't we just put an album out on my label? And I couldn't believe it when they all said, "Yes." And then I got to be the record boss, which is a bit of a joke. It's all very family-oriented, ma and pa kind of style. You know, we're all pals.

Harper: I was blown away, because we sat down to do the art, and he was talking about UV spot varnish, and code numbers and Pantone numbers. But even better than that, there's nothing misspelled on the record, and all the colors are the colors that we picked. So often, you get something back, and it's sort of factory-pressed. But this felt like something handcrafted.

CNN: Ben, when you came into this room, you said, "I'm going to sit on the side." Is it a relief to not have to be the guy to answer the questions all the time?

Harper: For me, it is.

Harrison: For me, too.

Arthur: For me, three.

CNN: Then how do you get anything done, if nobody wants to be the decision-maker?

Arthur: We take turns leading. Of course, there's an adequate amount of tension to make rock and roll together. You don't want a tensionless environment, but there's a healthy amount. You can trust it. There's a load of love and respect, and I think we all have kind of an innate feel about when we should lead and when we should follow.

CNN: So do we call this a debut album, because there's more coming up?

Harrison: We didn't get the hang of making the first record, because it was done so effortlessly. We want to spend some time together, and write some more records. Even if it's just to hang out.

CNN: How is the second album going to sound compared to the first one?

Harrison: It's kind of like saying, "How would you describe a painting, and how's it different from the one you haven't painted yet?"

Arthur: When you write a poem, you write one line, and that line informs the next line, informs the next line, informs the next line -- and then suddenly, it's a poem. So we're in the process of just writing lines right now. So it's hard to know what the poem's going to be.

Harrison: Whatever it sounds like, it'll definitely be fun to make.