Tim Hart is most commonly known as the drummer of the indie-folk band Boy & Bear, and is usually seen tucked away behind the drum set supplying the beat and back-up vocals. However, Hart has recently ventured into the world of solo projects, and on his newly released debut album Milling the Wind there isn’t a drum set in sight.
A mild spring night at The Workers Club in Fitzroy provided an intimate setting for the Melbourne leg of Hart’s EP tour, wonderfully supported by two opening acts. The softly spoken but enchanting Neda was followed by Stu Larsen, who, despite being a gypsy with no fixed address, has such a powerful live voice that the Melbourne music scene can expect to see a lot more of him in the future.
Then Hart, the redheaded man himself appeared on stage, smiling cheekily as he exchanged banter with the audience. He opened with ‘Cover of your Code’ on the banjo, and it instantly became clear that playing the drums is not his only musical forté. Switching between the banjo and the guitar, his intricate fingerpicking skills were on display throughout the set, occasionally combined with the lingering sounds of a harmonica.
Each of Hart’s songs is deeply lyrical, written about his personal trials and triumphs. At one point Hart apologised for the intensity of his songs, saying, “I’m sorry my music isn’t terribly uplifting, but sometimes we need to talk about the more serious things.” There were certainly no complaints; with each song the audience was entranced, before erupting with applause as they finished. Given the soft melancholy nature of the music, Hart’s bubbly personality and enthusiastic banter with the audience were a welcome contrast.
The highlight of the evening arrived when Neda and Larsen joined Hart on stage for a joint rendition of Larsen’s song ‘The Mile’. This combination of such strong voices accompanied only by an acoustic guitar was truly breathtaking.
Despite being incredibly comfortable alone on stage, Hart made it clear that he has no intention of giving up Boy & Bear in favour of his solo career. “Although I love being able to explore solo projects, Boy & Bear always comes first. But there’s no reason I can’t do both!” he said.
Heading home after seeing Tim Hart, I was left with the feeling that I had just been to a mate’s gig at a cosy local pub. Hart’s welcoming stage presence and undisputed talent makes him a testament both to Boy & Bear and Australia’s live music scene today.